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Gilas faces Turkey in rematch; Diaw, Batum, Parker to fly in last night.
With four days left before the tournament, there is no doubt that Gilas Pilipinas would want to improve aspects of its game that needs to be strengthened and one last tune-up game will allow the national team to tighten loose ends in time for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
The national team plays Turkey for the second time in two weeks after the teams clash in another friendly encounter today at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Meanwhile, France, with NBA stars Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Nicolas Batum, was set to arrive late Thursday night, while Canada, Senegal and New Zealand are scheduled to fly in today.
Gilas had a tough time against a tall and highly physical Turkey side in their first meeting in Istanbul, with the the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers, and 6-foot-8 forward Cedi Osman.
“It’s about improving our chemistry and learning our system,” said Gilas forward Gabe Norwood.
“It’s crucial for us (playing Turkey) because we’re playing against one of the top teams in the world. It’s about playing on the same page and just trying to get better playing together,” Norwood added.
The rematch is set at 7 p.m. Turkey arrived here Tuesday night in the same flight with the Filipinos aboard Turkish Airline.
Aside from losing to Turkey, Gilas likewise fell to Italy (106-70) in a pocket tournament in Bologna, but ended the said event with a 72-69 win over Asian nemesis China in the battle for third place.
Andray Blatche, the 6-foot-11 naturalized player of Gilas, scored 23 points opposite Turkey, but he only had Jayson Castro to back him up as the two-time best guard in Asia contributed 15 points.
Jeff Chan, Norwood’s teammate with Rain or Shine, said that what hurt the team during that first match with Turkey should serve them well in their second meeting on home soil.
“Siguro yung mga pagkakamali naming huwag na maulit. Naunahan kasi kami noong first game, e in international competition mahirap yung ganun e,” said the sweet-shooting Chan.
“So dapat mag-improve kami dun, and later pwede naming ma-apply when the tournament starts,” added Chan, who only scored five points in that match.