Thursday, August 20, 2015
Gilas Pilipinas vs Netherlands in first friendly game of European camp
The Philippine national men’s basketball team struts its wares for the first time this year as Gilas Pilipinas takes on Netherlands in the opener of a series of friendly games on Thursday in Tallin, Estonia.
The Filipinos are taking on the Dutch at 10:30 Philippine time, with delayed telecast over TV5 on Friday at 4:15 p.m.
Gilas Pilipinas is playing its first competitive game under the guidance of new coach Tab Baldwin who was appointed late last year. It is also the first of their three friendly games of their European camp as they will also meet host Estonia and Iceland.
But the team has only been together for more than two weeks, and Baldwin admitted that the squad is “way behind” in its preparations for the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship in China in September.
The winner of the tournament serves as a qualifier for the 2016 Rio Olympics, a stage the Philippines hasn’t reached since 1972.
The Filipinos are facing a Netherlands team that hasn’t been on the international circuit for years. In fact, the European side will just be making its first appearance at the EuroBasket this September after 25 years.
Its absence could be attributed to the lack of support, with the sport lagging way behind football in terms of popularity. Just recently, Netherlands basketball received financial backing from the business sector.
In 2013, Netherlands was forced to forfeit matches during the EuroBasket qualifiers by fielding two naturalized players in a game — only one is allowed as per FIBA rules. They bounced back the next year and finally managed to earn a spot in the competition.
The Dutch has an average height of around 6’6″, with their tallest player, Henk Norel, standing at 6’11″. He is also arguably the team’s best player, an agile big man who has spent his professional career in the Spanish ACB League.
The squad has played nine friendly games as part of its EuroBasket buildup, winning its last four against the likes of Iceland, University of Illinois, Great Britain and Portugal.
They will be tested against Gilas Pilipinas who will be led by naturalized star Andray Blatche. Also members of the team are Jayson Castro, Ranidel De Ocampo, Gabe Norwood, Gary David, Asi Taulava, Sonny Thoss, Dondon Hontiveros, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, Calvin Abueva, Terrence Romeo, Aldrech Ramos, JC Intal, Moala Tautuaa, and Troy Rosario.