Nikola Vucevic’s Montenegro, Gilas Pilipinas clash in Fiba World Cup friendly
MANILA, Philippines — Gilas Pilipinas braces for its friendly against two-time NBA All-Star Nikola Vucevic and Montenegro on Sunday at Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
After beating Ivory Coast, 85-62, with Jordan Clarkson leading the collective effort on Friday evening, Gilas coach Chot Reyes is shifting his focus on the World ranked No.18 Montenegro as they are set to conclude their final build-up for the Fiba World Cup 2023 starting on August 25 at Philippine Arena.
“That’s a very different team. They are even stronger, European style, [Nikola] Vucevic is there, a bonafide NBA starter for his team, and some others,” Reyes said. “Diyan, mapapalaban talaga tayo. But we’ll see. We’re looking to play better in the Montenegro game than we did today.”
The closed-door tune-up match is set at 8 p.m. as Montenegro is expected to parade the 6-foot-9 Chicago Bulls forward Vucevic, Marko Simonovic, Bojan Dubljevic, Vladimir Mihailovic, and Dino Radoncic.
Montenegro, which clinched a World Cup berth on the last game day of the European Qualifiers in November last year, arrived in Manila on Thursday night and already trained at Philsports Arena.
The Montenegrins are making their second straight Fiba World Cup appearance and they are slated in Group D against Egypt, Mexico, and Lithuania at MOA Arena.
Montenegro will kick off its campaign against Mexico on August 25, 8 p.m., at MOA Arena.
The Philippines, on the other hand, will face Mexico in another friendly on Monday to cap its preparation before Reyes trims down its 16-man pool to the Final 12, two days before the opener.
Gilas will take on the Karl-Anthony Towns-led Dominican Republic on opening day at Philippine Arena, where the country tries to set a new attendance record.
The Filipinos are also grouped with Angola, which they battle on August 27, and Italy on August 29 both held at Smart Araneta Coliseum.