Gilas tests Croatia tonight

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

THE moment basketball-crazy Filipinos have been waiting for will start at 6:30 p.m. tonight.

Gilas Pilipinas, the Philippine men’s basketball team, takes the mahogany court against Croatia for their first Group B assignment in the 2014 Fiba World Cup in Seville, Spain.

Going into the tournament as underdog, the nationals will most likely maximize their speed and outside shooting to at least be at par or offset its height disadvantage against the Croatians, the 2013 EuroBasket fourth placer.


With only naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche as the legitimate big man of Gilas, 6’9” forward Japeth Aguilar and 6’10” center Junmar Fajardo are expected to step up, double their effort, to provide more muscle underneath against the much taller Croatian side.

Croatia will be led by two NBA stars in Brooklyn Nets 6’8” forward Bojan Bogdanovic and Indiana Pacers' 6’9” forward Damjan Rudez.

The Europeans have great ceiling aside from the duo with Ante Tomic (7'1”), Luksa Andric (6'11”), Damir Markota (6’10”) and 6’9” slotmen Dario Saric and Luka Zoric manning the shaded area.

Outside shooting is vital for the Philippines as Bacolod City-born three-pointer Jeff Chan alongside Paul (Lee) Dalistan and Gabe Norwood are expected to hit their shots from the rainbow territory.

Troy Sarabia, Chan’s former coach at University of St. La Salle-Integrated School, believes his former ward is one of Gilas’ weapons.

“His foundation as a player and the experience he gained all throughout his career made him a great player. I’m confident that Jeff will make good in the national team,” Sarabia said.

Bacolod City Mayor Monico Puentevella, who is now in Spain, said that everyone in the Gilas are in high spirits.

“Let’s help pray in spite of the tall odds. We’re just lucky we have an MVP (Manny V. Pangilinan),” he said. “Jeff also sends his best regards to all the Bacolodnons supporting the team. I hope his treys will work tonight.”

For Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas-Negros Occidental chairman Tony Agustin, who is also in Spain, Gilas should just play and enjoy their game with no pressure.

“Whatever the outcome of the game will be, make sure they play their best,” he said.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 30, 2014.


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