By JONAS TERRADO
LA Tenorio described the upcoming FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, Serbia as a test of character for the youthful Gilas Pilipinas squad.
Tenorio said the quality of opponents Gilas will face in OQT will be a chance to gauge themselves, especially after completing a six-game sweep of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers last weekend.
“It’s a man game now. Dito natin mate-test yan,” the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel floor general and former Gilas mainstay said in One Sports’ The Game.
“Dito mate-test yung character nung team. But this is good training also. I think coach Tab knows this is part of the program playing in the Olympic qualifier,” added Tenorio.
Gilas faces insurmountable odds in Belgrade as it will face host Serbia and Dominican Republic in Group A of the Belgrade OQT on July 1 and 2 Manila time. The top two teams will advance to the semifinals.
For Tenorio, having games against countries highly-ranked by FIBA will allow them to know what needs to be done once the OQT stint is over.
“This is an opportunity for the players to experience more manly games, kasi iba talaga kapag mga Top 50 or even Top 20 teams in the world ang makakalaban mo compared sa mga Asian countries only,” said Tenorio.
Serbia is ranked fifth in the latest FIBA rankings while Dominican Republic is 19th.
Should Gilas do the unthinkable and advance to the semis, it will face either 10th ranked Italy, No. 18 Puerto Rico or Senegal, which is four places below the Philippines which is at No. 31.