EUROPEAN STINT: Gilas Pilipinas takes on Turkey; Poland up next
Published on June 27, 2024

Gilas Pilipinas looks to shrug off a near daylong flight from Manila to Istanbul last Tuesday and unfamiliarity with the time difference between the two cities when it takes on the Turkey national team in an exhibition match on Friday, June 28.

Game time in Istanbul is at 8 p.m., Thursday when it is around 1 in the morning the next day in Manila.

In rush hour mode to catch the last plane to the Paris Olympics, the Nationals, led by coach Tim Cone, left the country the early morning of June 25 and arrived in the West Asian nation a little less than 24 hours later, according to team manager Richard del Rosario.

“The team spent the day recovering from the long flight and adjusting to the time difference,” said Del Rosario via Viber.

Practice, to be followed by a viewing session, was at 7 p.m. for Justin Brownlee and the rest of Gilas, which beat the Taiwan Mustangs 74-64 last June 25 at the Philsports Arena in the first of three tuneup games in the buildup to the FIBA Olympic Qualifiers in Latvia, a country in the Baltic region.

A third friendly is scheduled against Poland’s national team on June 29, Saturday at around midnight (Manila time). It would be 6 p.m. in Krakow.

Turkey is 24th in the FIBA ranking while Poland is 15th.

The Philippines, at 37th, will take on world No. 6 Latvia in the OQT at Arena Riga on July 4 and No. 23 Georgia on July 5.

Minutes after wrapping up the win against the Mustangs, Cone touched briefly on Gilas’ European sideshow.

“Poland is No. 15 in the world so they’ll give us a real good feel and Turkey is No. 24, but they are much better with their NBA guys. I don’t know if their NBA guys are going to show up because they are not preparing for the OQT,” he said.

“Poland is preparing for the OQT in Valencia but Turkey is preparing for the Euro qualifiers. They may have their full team there. But we will see, should be a good indication of where we are by the time we go to Riga. That’s the idea.”

Del Rosario, for his part, said the Nationals’ “preparation is about polishing offense and defensive principles” for the OQT, two facets of their game which may have bared a need for some attention during the clash with the Mustangs, coached by former PBA mentor Chris Gavina with longtime PBA star and former national player Alex Cabagnot directing play.

“These friendlies will give us a gauge on where we are in terms of readiness heading into the OQT,” Del Rosario added. “It will give us a taste of the competition that we will be facing in Riga.”

While the official Turkey lineup was unavailable during the chat interview, a look at its website showed the Turkish team, coached by Ergin Ataman, has a couple of 7-footers, two 6-foot-9 bigs and three 6-foot-7 forwards.