Tuneups vs Iran to gauge Gilas’ progress
The Philippine men’s national basketball team will get its first test when it takes on Iran in a pair of tuneup games beginning Tuesday less than a month before the Filipinos open their campaign in the Fiba Olympic qualifying tournament against France.It marks the first time Gilas Pilipinas will play against an opposing side since the team was assembled last November. The scrimmages will also determine how much ground has Gilas covered at this stage in its training. “Gusto namin talaga malaman nasaan na talaga yung team namin after weeks of practice. I’m very sure na marami pa kaming kailangan gawin sobrang layo pa namin sa talagang gusto naming puntahan,” said Gilas point guard LA Tenorio. “Titignan namin kung hanggang saan na yung team ngayon,” said veteran forward Marc Pingris. “Masusubukan namin ngayon kung ilang percent kami, kung aaano namin iha-handle yung pressure na ibibigay sa amin nung Iran. Malaking bagay yon para sa amin.” Gilas has come a long way since its very first practice seven months ago and the energy and intensity in training have picked up since the arrival of Andray Blatche a little over a week ago. But despite the improvements, Tenorio feels Gilas still has a lot of work to do before it reaches its full potential. “Siguro about 50 to 60 percent pa lang kami sa ginagawa namin. So doon namin makikita, first tune-up game namin together as a team, and doon namin makikita kung ano bang kailangan naming ma-improve. It’s a good test before leaving,” said Tenorio. Philippine team head coach Tab Baldwin said the score “will be irrelevant” and the important thing is building on what Gilas will be learning from facing a team like Iran. “What’s more, we learn for ourselves by facing different opposition than ourselves. It really is a question of getting the videotape running, looking at how we look against different defenses, different style of play, different offenses, find where are weaknesses are then get into camp and have some real quality data to go to work on rather than just go into camp facing only ourselves for a two-week period,” Baldwin said. “So it should be beneficial to us.” Iran will be without its key mainstays including star center Hamed Haddadi, Nikkhah Bahrami and Mehdi Kamrani. The first tuneup tiff will be closed-door while Wednesday’s exhibition game will be in front of a crowd at Smart Araneta Coliseum.