GILAS Pilipinas hopes to get a shot of playing powerhouse Spain as the team plunges into action in a mini pocket tournament to cap its week-long training camp in preparation for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Gilas will again face Congo, while world no. 2 Spain, boasts of Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Rudy Fernandez, and the Hernangomez brothers, Willy and Juan, battles Ivory Coast in the other pairing.
The Filipinos arrived in the city of Malaga on Thursday from Guadalajara and lost no time going back to the gym for a late night practice.
The pocket tournament kicks off Friday at the Palacio de Deportes Jose M. Martin Carpena, with Gilas Pilipinas facing Congo and Ivory Coast taking on the host country.
Winner of each pairing will take on each other in the tournament final scheduled Saturday.
The Filipinos are hoping to repeat over Congo to arrange a meeting with the Spaniards, ranked second in the world and bolstered by NBA players Ricky Rubio, Marc Gasol, Willy and Juan Hernangomez, and Rudy Fernandez.
The Filipinos beat Congo, 102-80, in their initial face-off in Guadalajara in the first of their scheduled back-to-back tune-up games, which they eventually swept after defeating Ivory Coast later, 94-83.
The national team's performance earned the Filipinos' more than just a passing grade from coach Yeng Guiao, who had to make do with a short 10-man lineup in the 10-day camp.
"Coach Yeng was pleased with the performance of the team in Guadalajara," said Ryan Gregorio, one of Guiao's deputies with the national squad.
Gilas is actually down to just nine players following the mild groin strain suffered by veteran guard Gabe Norwood in the game against Congo.
The 34-year-old Norwood will still be reassessed according to Gregorio, for the rematch against Congo. (RG)