With just a 6-week window to prepare for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila, Gilas Pilipinas will be bracing for a tight training schedule that includes a 17-day trip in Europe next month.
Gilas coach Tab Baldwin said after spending the next 2 weeks teaching and re-introducing the system, the national squad will play back-to-back games against Asian men’s basketball powerhouse Iran on June 7 and 8 in Manila.
The American-Kiwi coach said the 1st collision against the Hamed Haddadi-led Iranians will be done on closed-door, before playing before the paying public the next day, possible at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Filipinos are expected to leave for Greece on June 11 and will spend the next 8 days preparing at Karpenisi, where the Greek national team holds its training.
Gilas then flies to Istanbul on June 19 and will face the Turkish national men’s team 2 days later.
Baldwin’s wards leaves on June 23 for Bologna and will clash with the Italian men’s national team on the 25th in a pocket tournament that also includes Canada and China.
Gilas returns to Manila on June 27 and after a few days practice, plays its final scrimmage game against Turkey on July 1.
By then, Baldwin is hopeful that Gilas will be toughened and ready for the huge challenge which France and New Zealand will be posing in the Fiba OQT.
The national squad opens the Fiba qualifying tournament against world no. 5 France on July 5, followed by New Zealand, the Oceania powerhouse team the next day. – By Richard Dy
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