Philippine team heads to Spain ahead of FIBA World Cup

Philippine team heads to Spain ahead of FIBA World Cup

Agency News

Manila, June 17 : The Philippines men's national basketball team is about to leave for Spain to play a series of tune-up games three weeks before the FIBA World Cup unfurls in China, the team's head coach Yeng Guiao said on Monday.

The national team, also known as Gilas Pilipinas, will be departing for Spain on August 4 and will stay there for more than a week to play exhibition matches with several countries also bound for the world meet, according to Guiao.

"I think that's a good tune-up for us (to arrange a match against Spain). I think they have seven to eight NBA players and all of them will be there," he said.As the world champion in 2006, Spain would have the likes of Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Serge Ibaka, Pau Gasol, Rudy Fernandez, Nikola Mirotic, among others in the team for the August 31 to September 15 tournament.

In China for the FIBA World Cup, the Philippines is in Group D together with Serbia, Italy, and Angola.Matching up with Spain could certainly help the Philippines prepare for Serbia and Italy, but Gilas Pilipinas is also looking at its showdown with Angola, Guiao said."African countries are there also (for the Spain tour)," he added.

Upon returning to the country, the team will practice for two more weeks and then head to China on August 27 in preparation for the bout against Italy on August 31, followed by Serbia on Sept. 2 and Angola on Sept. 4.

"I'm not sure if we can still get scrimmages in China, but if we can, we will. If not, we will just practice by ourselves," Guiao said.The national team will have its first official twice-a-week practice on Monday and Thursday, which Guiao hopes to schedule on a daily basis by August.

While training may be a little bit crammed, Guiao said it's the best possible schedule the team can have given their obligations in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), the men's professional basketball league in the country.

"I think this is the best plan for the practice days and we are not too busy with the PBA schedule," said Guiao, who also handles a PBA team NLEX Road Warriors.