The Philippine men’s basketball still has five and a half months to prepare for the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain. In here, MSW assesses the group where Gilas belong.
The PHL team opens its campaign by meeting European team Croatia on August 30 at the Palacio Municipal de Deportes San Pablo in Seville. After that, Gilas go up against Greece, followed by Argentina.
Action resumes after a one-day break as the Pinoy cagers face Puerto Rico on September 3, closing out the group stages against Senegal. According to men’s basketball national team head coach Chot Reyes, they have to win at least two of their matches to advance to the knockout round.
The Philippines relies on their speed and outside shooting as Reyes primarily employs a dribble-drive offense. The key here is for the penetrators to attract the defense so that they can dish it out to a perimeter player or drop it to a big man inside the paint.
On paper, the weakest team among our country’s opponents is Senegal, being the lowest ranked team in the group. Puerto Rico and Croatia are two squads that can be beaten on a splendid day by Gilas, while Argentina and Greece are both in the top ten in the world and are considered the most formidable sides of Group B.
Two players in Senegal’s 2013 FIBA Africa Championship lineup had NBA experience, Mouhamed Sene and Hamady N’Diaye. Puerto Rico, meanwhile, is expected to field in the core that finished second at the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship, such as JJ Barea, Carlos Arroyo, and Renaldo Balkman.
Croatians Roko Ukić and Damir Markota have been lined up by NBA teams, but it is Bojan Bogdanović they rely on for scoring. Vassilis Spanoulis and Antonis Fotsis are the most recognizable names coming from fellow Euro-based country Greece.
Luis Scola may be the only one who is actively playing at the NBA who was called up by Argentina for the FIBA Americas tournament last year. Still, it is expected that the South American sports powerhouse will have all hands on deck in Spain.
It is already an achievement the Philippines has gone this far. Whatever happens in this tournament and wherever Gilas finish is a matter of pride for every Filipino.
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