Gilas 5 takes on Argentina
SEVILLE, Spain—Gilas Pilipinas plays its third game in as many days in the Fiba World Cup on Monday afternoon, clashing with former Olympic gold medallist Argentina and NBA veteran Luis Scola in Group B play at Centro Deportivo San Pablo here.
Game time is 5:30 p.m. (11:30 p.m. Manila time) with the Filipinos tackling the toughest, most bemedalled side in their group.
Scola, power forward of the Indiana Pacers, will be the spearhead of the Argentina five without Manu Ginobili, the San Antonio superstar in the NBA, who is sidelined by injury.
Argentina, which won this event in 1950 and has been a dominant force in the Pan-American Games, will also have former Chicago Bull Andreas Nocioni and the veteran Salem Safar.
The trio will be the main focus of the Gilas defense and coach Chot Reyes made it no secret that they would have to outrun all of their foes here to have a shot at winning at least two games and advancing past this round.
The Philippines lost to Croatia, 78-81, in overtime in its first game in the global tournament since 1978. The last time the Filipinos won a game was in 1974 with a team led by the sweet-shooting William “Bogs” Adornado.
After the Argentines, the Filipinos take a breather on Tuesday before playing two must-win games in the next two days—against Puerto Rico and then Fiba Africa champion Senegal.
The Filipinos were still playing No. 5-ranked Greece at presstime.
“They (field) now know what we can do and I think we earned their respect after our first game,” guard Gabe Norwood, who could get Safar or the much-taller Nocioni as a defensive assignment, told the Inquirer.
“One thing about it (the loss against Croatia) is we’re confident now; we know that we belong,” said naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche. “Coming in here, a lot of people doubted us and saw us as an easy match.
“We will come out with the same energy,” Blatche added, after shooting 28 points and grabbing 12 rebounds against the Croats, another side laden with NBA talent. “We’re getting better and we’ll keep on fighting.”
Reyes called for a light practice at noon on Sunday, eight hours before the game against the Greeks.
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