Gilas Pilipinas opens Fiba WCup bid vs Croatia

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Friday, August 29, 2014


TOUTED as underdogs in Group B, Gilas Pilipinas will try to score an upset victory over Croatia as they open their bid in the 2014 Fiba World Cup in Spain at 6:30 p.m., Manila time, today, August 30.

Philippines, which copped a silver medal in the Fiba Asia 2013, is up against the fourth-placer in the 2013 Euro basketball championships.

Of course, leading the group are Argentina and Greece that are currently ranked third and fifth, respectively, in the Fiba World rankings.

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Argentina was third in the Fiba Americas continental championship. Puerto Rico, second in the Americas tournament, and Senegal, a bronze medalist in the African Championship, complete the group B cast.

Local basketball experts and enthusiasts share their views on Gilas' stint in the quadrennial basketball spectacle.

SanMig Super Coffee Mixers guard Peter June Simon, a veteran of seven PBA championships, said, "Maski isa ra ka daug, achievement na kaayo na for the Gilas (It's already an achievement for the Gilas to win just a single game)."

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) regional director Regino "Boy" Cua, for his part said, "Kahit na dalawang panalo para pumasok sa quarter-finals."

Newly crowned Kadayawan sa Dabaw 2014 commercial basketball champion coach Ice Gravador of Goldstar Hardware said, "It will be a daunting task. They need to contain Croatia's big men as well as their shooters. They must be able to secure defensive rebounds and not give too many second chances to them. It will be very hard but who knows? You cannot measure the heart of the Gilas."

Gravador said the Gilas must offensively run a lot.

"They need to connect from the outside to give room for Andray Blatche to operate inside," Gravador added.

Seasoned sportswriter Charles Raymond A. Maxey, for his part, said it's going to be very difficult to win a game in Spain. "I'm speaking from my brain, not from my heart. Of course, I would like us to win every game there. But we should be realistic and not give ourselves false hopes. One thing is sure, our players will be playing their hearts out and for that we should be proud of them."

Holy Child College Reds coach Roger Rabago, for his part, said: "Naay chance mudaug (Philippines has a chance to win over Croatia)."

But Agro-Industrial Foundation College of the Philippines (AIFCP) Sailors coach Roderick Conda said Gilas won't stand a chance, saying, "Dili kadaug ang Gilas ana (Gilas can't win).

Only the top four teams in the group will advance to the quarter-finals.

In other games, Puerto Rico battles Argentina while Greece takes on Senegal.

Meanwhile, TV5 will air live games of the Gilas Pilipinas with the following schedule: August 30 - Philippines vs Croatia, 6:30 p.m.; September 1 - Philippines vs Greece, 2 a.m.; September 1 - Philippines vs Argentina, 11:30 p.m.; September 3 - Philippines vs Puerto Rico, 7:30 p.m.; and September 4 - Philippines vs Senegal, 8 p.m.

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

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