Gilas faces Croatia

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Saturday, August 30, 2014


MANILA — Gilas Pilipinas starts its campaign in Group B against Croatia today in the first day of the 2014 Fiba World Cup at the 7,127-seater Palacio Municipal de Deposrtes in Seville, Spain.

After more than a month of preparation, the Filipino squad headed by skipper Jimmy Alapag and naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche will face the Croatians at 6:30 p.m. (PHL time). They arrived in Seville early Friday following a series of pockets
tournaments in France and Spain.

This will be the first time since 1978 when the Philippine national basketball team sees action in the Fiba World Championship and all 12 players expressed excitement and determination to carry the national colors against the best in the world today.

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Head coach Chot Reyes said the squad is ready to face the challenge as they look forward for a decent finish in the 24-nation tourney won by the United States national team in Turkey in 2010.

In the preliminary group stage, the world no. 34-ranked Gilas Pilipinas, which earned a slot to the world championship after finishing runner-up behind Iran in the Fiba-Asia Championship last year in Manila, will next face Greece on Aug. 31, Argentina on Sept. 1, Puerto Rico on Sept. 3 and Senegal on Sept. 4.

Reyes said they improved a lot after meeting several teams in the pocket tournaments, which was capped by a physical game against Dominican Republic, 79-86, last Tuesday.

He noted that the 10-game stretch in the last three weeks boosted their confidence especially after beating Fiba-Africa runner-up Egypt, 74-65, last Sunday.

“It was really good to end our preparations with a close game against Dominican Republic. Now, we can say we are heading into the group stage play with some momentum,” said team manager Aboy Castro.

Aside from Alapag and Blatche, the other members of the team are June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, Ranidel De Ocampo, Jean Marc Pingris, Gabe Norwood, Jeffrei Chan, Gary David, Lewis Alfred “L.A.” Tenorio, Jayson William and newcomer Paul Dalistan Lee, who replaced the injured Larry Fonacier.

The 6’10 Fajardo, the 2014 PBA MVP, will be Blatche’ reliever in the post. He finished with eight points against Egypt and also had eight points and four rebounds against Dominican Republic.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 30, 2014.

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