Filipino fans get a sneak peak of Gilas Pilipinas as early as the 1st week of June when it clashes with Asian powerhouse Iran, before taking on Turkey possibly on July 1 as part of the PH team’s preparation for the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament set from July 5-10 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas deputy director for internal affairs Butch Antonio confirmed the two friendly matches of Gilas to FOX Sports on Monday.
“Gilas will play Iran maybe mga first week of June siguro kasi they will pass by here only because they play in another OQT,” Antonio said.
“Yung Turkey baka by July 1.”
Smart Araneta Coliseum and Mall of Asia Arena are the possible venues for the 2 friendly matches.
The Iranians are participating in another qualifying tournament in Turin, Italy with the West Asian team bracketed in Group A along with the Greeks and Italians.
Gilas beat the Hamed Haddadi-led Iran squad, 87-73 in the 2nd round of 2015 Fiba-Asia men’s championships in Changsa, China.
On the other hand, Turkey, ranked 8th in the world, will more likely be bannered by Orlando Magic forward Ersan Ilyasova and possibly New Orleans Pelicans back up center Omer Asik as they join the Manila leg.
Turkey is actually bracketed in Group B, along with Canada (26th) and Senegal (31st).
Should Gilas finish top 2 in its Group A bracket that includes France and New Zealand, the Filipino will inevitably cross path with the Turkish team in the 2nd round.
Antonio said Gilas will still be pushing through with its friendly matches in Italy in late June where the national side, bannered by naturalized big man Andray Blatche set to collide with the Italian men’s squad and a still to be determined opponent. – By Richard Dy
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