Gilas Pilipinas left Istanbul early Thursday morning for its scheduled 3-hour flight to Bologna in the final leg of its 17-day Europe trip.
The Filipinos are slated to join the 4-nation pocket tournament in Italy over the weekend with Canada and China.
No doubt, Gilas’ 35-point shellacking at the hands of Turkey men’s basketball team on Wednesday (Manila time) left a bad taste in the mouth of the Filipinos, who are using the European expedition as part of their buildup for FIBA Olympic Qualifying tournament in Manila.
“Of course, we were disappointed, we came out and played with no identity,” Gilas Fil-Am guard Gabe Norwood told FOX Sports, before leaving for Bologna.
A veteran national player, Norwood stressed the need for Gilas to play to its strength, while putting emphasis on playing hard-nosed defense for 40 minutes.
“Maybe that’ll be a good wake-up call for us to stick to our strengths and to avoid our weaknesses,” added Norwood, one of Rain or Shine’s top defenders in the PBA.
With Turkey’s gunners having a field day from the perimeter and inside the painted area, the host nation easily dominated Gilas on the way to an emphatic 103-68 win in the first of their 2 friendly games scheduled within a 2-week span.
“Giving up 100+ (points) in a 40-minute game surely shows our defense wasn’t where we wanted it to be,” he said. “But we also know we are capable of doing much better.”
Gilas will try to do better come Saturday when it tangles with Italy’s men’s national team, while Canada takes on China.
Should Gilas lose to the Italians, the Filipinos will face the loser of the Canada-China match, or the winner if they beat Italy.
The national squad is scheduled to return to Manila next Monday and is expected to arrive the next day.
Gilas will have a few days to prepare, before facing the Turkish national team anew, this time at the Mall of Asia Arena, ahead of its kick-off match in the Olympic qualifying tournament against France on July 5. – By Richard Dy
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