Gabe Norwood unfazed when Gilas battles Australia: 'We're world class now'
MANILA, Philippines – Ask common basketball fans and they will probably say Gilas Pilipinas is the underdog against Australia. Ask Gabe Norwood and he'd give you a completely opposite answer.
Norwood, who has been with national team longer than his career with the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in the PBA, has seen how Gilas transformed into one of Asia's stronger teams.
The 33-year-old had a first-hand experience of Gilas' peek as the team barged into the 2014 World Cup following a second-place finish in the FIBA Asia Championships the year before.
In the World Cup, Gilas almost pulled off wins against top-tier teams Croatia, Argentina and Puerto Rico before ending their campaign with a victory over Senegal.
The World Cup stint saw Norwood go toe-to-toe with NBA players Luis Scola, JJ Barea, Gorgui Dieng and Bojan Bogdanovic,
So heading into the second window of the FIBA Asian Qualifiers of the 2019 World Cup where Gilas will face powerhouse Australia, Norwood is confident that there is no reason to be intimidated.
"Those days are over and done with. I think we crossed that threshold when we qualified and played in the World Cup," said Norwood.
Australia is currently slated at 10th in the world and first in Asia based on the FIBA world rankings while the Philippines is 31st in the world and 5th in Asia.
Rankings aside, Norwood believes the game is still up for grabs.
"Everybody in this gym knows we're world class now just like Australia is. So we're gonna go out and play as hard as we can."
Gilas will face Australia in its own turf on February 22 before returning home to take on Japan on February 25. – Rappler.com