Gilas Pilipinas is scheduled to face former 3-time Asian basketball champion Iran on June 7 and 8, before possibly spending the last 2 and a half weeks of the month training in Europe as part of its intensive preparation for the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director for international affairs Butch Antonio said the scheduled friendly match against the Iranians on June 7 will be played in closed door, before opening the 2nd game the following day to the general public.
Both games will be played at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Both are just friendly games, but the June 7 game will be played on close door. Ni-request siya ng Iran,” Antonio told FOX Sports on Wednesday.
The Filipinos routed the Iranians, 87-73 during the 2nd round of the 2015 FIBA Asia men’s championships in Changsa behind a solid defensive effort.
Iran will be using its 2-game friendly match versus Gilas Pilipinas as part of its own preparation, before joining in the FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament in Turin, Italy. The West Asian powerhouse team is bracketed in Group A in Turin, along with the Greece and Italy.
Gilas is bracketed in Group A, along with world no. 5 France and New Zealand in the FIBA OQT Manila leg, scheduled to kick off on July 5 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Antonio said if plans don’t miscarry, Gilas will leave on June 10 to begin its 17-day European expedition with naturalized big man Andray Blatche bannering the national squad. Blatche is set to arrive in Manila on May 15.
The national squad will cap its European trip with a 2-day friendly tournament in Bologna, Italy on June 25-26 where the host nation, along with Asian men’s basketball champion China and Canada are also participating.
“The tournament is just simple. The winners of the 1st day will face each other on the 2nd day, while the losers will play against each other also sa 2nd day. More on friendly games lang talaga,” said Antonio.
The Italians could probably be bannered by NBA veterans led by gunner Marco Bellineli of Sacramento Kings, Andrea Bargnani (Brooklyn Nets) and Danilo Gallinari of Denver Nuggets). – By Richard Dy
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