Gilas guards won’t back down against France’s bigger backcourt

France got the size advantage and the experience, but Gilas Pilipinas guards Jayson Castro and LA Tenorio aren’t backing down at all when they face the French team in the opening day of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila on July 5.

Ranked 5th in the world, the Les Blues will be bannered by NBA star Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs, with veteran guards like Nando de Colo and possibly Evan Fournier also manning the backcourt.

But Castro, nicknamed “the Blur”, said Gilas intends to use its quickness to counter France’s size advantage.

“Sinasabi ni coach Tab na kailangan namin mag-adjust talaga, dahil kung iyun (size) ang advantage nila, kami naman, sa quickness,” Castro told FOX Sports.

The 5-foot-8 Castro is one of several guards in the current Gilas pool who stands below 6 feet.

“At first siguro maiilang kami, but as long as ready kami, iyung mga tuneup games naman namin, mga malalaki ang makakalaban namin, then sana masanay agad,” added Castro, voted the Best Point Guard during the last 2 editions of the FIBA Asia men’s championships.

Gilas will have several tuneup matches before heading to FIBA OQT.

The national squads will play Iran on back-to-back nights (June 7 and 8), before leaving on June 10 for its 2-week Europe training camp.

And like Castro, Tenorio said he’s not the type of player who will back down from any challenge, even if their defenders would be 5 or 6 inches taller than them.

“Ako naman, no. 1, as one of the veterans sa team na ito, iyun (facing bigger opponents) na talaga yung challenge sa akin every time I step on the court and playing for the Philippine team,” said the Barangay Ginebra court general.

“Hindi ko ine-expect na wala ako babantayang malaki sa akin. It’s always been kung hindi maliit, eh sobrang laki for me, but I’m up to the challenge at di naman ako ba-back down basta-basta,” vowed Tenorio.

Both Castro and Tenorio played for Gilas during the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Seville, Spain.

Although Gilas only won once, an 81-79 overtime triumph against Senegal at the close of its preliminary round assignment, the Filipinos almost pulled off giant victories against basketball powerhouse squads like Croatia, Argentina and Puerto Rico. – By Richard Dy

Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava