They’re in--Blatche, Fajardo, 4 others

August 23, 2019

The morning after their second friendly against the visiting Adelaide 36ers tomorrow night, Gilas Pilipinas coach Yeng Guiao will announce the composition of the national team to the Fiba World Cup which begins in eight Chinese cities in a few days.

Actually, Guiao will have to name only the remaining six players in the 12-member lineup since six led by Andre Blatche are shoo-ins for the team which is making its second straight appearance in the world basketball showpiece.

Like Blatche, good as in are PBA reigning five-time MVP June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer,  veteran Gabe Norwood of Rain or Shine, Japeth Aguilar of Ginebra and  RR Pogoy and Troy Rosario of Talk 'N Text.

Seven others in the pool--Raymond Almazan, Mark Barroca, Beau Belga, Robert Bolick, Poy Erram, CJ Perez and Kiefer Ravena--will contest the remaining six slots. Matthew Wright and Marcio Lassiter were initially in the pool and both looked a cinch in the team, but injuries prevented them from joining.

In a chat with sportswriters a few days ago during the team's send-off, Guiao said "the team that will represent us in the World Cup will be a team that will fight really".

"It won't buckle under pressure and can stand the physicality of playing against bigger and stronger players," the NLEX coach in the pro league said.

On Aug. 31, in one of eight matches scheduled to e played in eighth key Chinese cities, the Filipinos open their bid against Italy in Foshan, China, with no less than President Duterte attending.

The Filipinos are expected to prove they could hold a candle against the Italians and show that the President is wrong in predicting that the Filipinos will be eaten alive by an Italian squad bannered by Oklahoma Thunder Danilo Gallinari and San Antonio Spurs Marco Belenelli.

A few weeks ago, in a speech before Chinese businessmen in Malacanang, Mr Duterte said: Wala, talo (versus Italy). Malalaki ang mga iyan".

The Filipinos play Serbia, the world's fourth-ranked nation, on Sept. 2 before closing their elimination round game against Angola on Sept 4.

GILAS Pilipinas has started the process of mapping out game plans for the teams it will be facing in the 2019 Fiba Basketball World Cup in China.

In its practice session on Thursday night, Gilas started discussing the plays of World Cup opponents starting with Italy, which it will face first on August 31 in Foshan, China. A day earlier, it had a film session as scouting reports started to come in.

“We’ve seen the scouting report. We are going towards devising our schemes defensively. Medyo malalim na ‘yung pina-practice natin concerning some game plans already,” said Guiao.

“We are anticipating certain things and we are trying to find solutions sa practice. So far everything is okay,” Guiao said.

While studying their opponents, Guiao said June Mar Fajardo, Troy Rosario, and RR Pogoy are being integrated into the plays of Gilas after joining the buildup late owing to their stint in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals.

“We were moving. June Mar, Troy, and Pogs, are more or less integrated into our system already. We are running our defenses already going to the homestretch of our preparations,” said the national coach.

Thursday’s practice also came on the eve of their first of two tune-up matches against Australian ballclub Adelaide 36ers.

Guiao said the goal is to win.

“You need to practice winning. Kailangan mo rin praktisin ‘yung attitude mo towards playing any game as part of the mental toughness aspect. Consider every game important, consider every possession, every play important because that’s how it’s going to be when we play in China,” Guiao said.

“You are not just practicing your execution, you have to practice your mindset. Part of the practice tomorrow is getting into the right mindset and being mentally tough,” he added.

Meanwhile, the team also celebrated naturalized player Andray Baltche's 33rd birthday at the end of practice.