Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) President Al Panlilio said that the SBP is negotiating with Russian Basketball Federation Commissioner Andrei Kirilenko to arrange at least two tune up games for Gilas Pilipinas as part of the Philippine national basketball team’s preparation for the World Cup.
“I’m in touch with Andrei Kirilenko. He wants us to go to Russia. Initially, it was a one game trip but we want it to expand to two games. It’s really toward the later part of August,” Panlilio told reporters on Wednesday night after the SBP’s news conference at the Araneta Coliseum.
The tune-up games will be held likely in Khabarovsk.
“That’s something we’re trying to finalize with Andrei Kirinlenko,” added Panlilio.
Russia is considered one of the powerhouse basketball teams in Europe currently ranked No. 12 by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).
Panlilio said that he’s also looking for possible tune-up games against Spain in early August prior to the planned Russia camp. “We have actually gotten many invites but we’re also looking at Spain as a potential [tune-up opponent].”
He added that national coach Yeng Guiao plans to conduct daily practices by August that will make way for his assessment of the team.
Panlilio believes that winning two games and making it to the top 16 in the FIBA World Cup on August 31 to September 15 in China is “doable” provided the national team prepares properly.
“If we prepare well, that’s doable. If we can make it to the Top 16, that’s a great achievement,” said Panlilio.
The SBP is also working to make Fil-Am Jordan Clarkson of the Cleveland Cavaliers eligible to play for Gilas alongside naturalized player Andray Blatche.
The Philippines is will be playing in Bracket D with Italy, Serbia and Angola.
Meanwhile, the SBP has unveiled its new logo as well as that of Gilas Pilipinas.
The SBP has also made public the appointment of the following officers: Tab Baldwin (program director for Gilas Pilipinas Youth), Jong Uichico (SBP Academy, Coaches and Tournament head) and Rebo Saguisag (Referees and Table Officials program director).
The Philippine national basketball teams will now be officially called Gilas Pilipinas men’s and Gilas Pilipinas women’s (formerly known as Perlas).
Batang Gilas will be now known as Gilas Pilipinas Youth and the 3×3 team as Gilas Pilipinas 3×3.
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