Gilas Pilipinas will look to gain confidence heading into their 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament campaign, which they will host in Manila starting Tuesday. The Philippine national basketball team will take on Turkey once again in a tune-up match on Friday at MOA Arena.
Gilas Pilipinas are coming a whirlwind tour in Europe to prepare for the upcoming 2016 FIBA OQT, where six teams will fight for a spot in the Rio Olympics. During their European trip, they took a 103-68 humiliating loss to Turkey, but are expected to go all out to win or at least have a decent loss in front of their home fans.
Philippines will once again rely on naturalized forward Andray Blatche, who scored 23 points in their first encounter. Jayson Castro, considered as the top point guard in Asia, is also expected to play a big role after tallying 15 markers against the 12 Giant Men in the previous tune-up match.
On the other hand, Birzan Batuk will likely lead Turkey’s attack anew after torching Gilas Pilipinas with 22 points on 5-for-6 shooting from beyond the arc in their blowout win. New Orleans Pelicans center Omer Asik will man the paint alongside former NBA player Semih Erden and towering big man Oguz Savas.
The Gilas Pilipinas vs. Turkey match will be a good test for Philippines, who are looking to pull off an upset in the tournament to earn a ticket to Rio. Philippines, who beat China in their most recent tune-up match, will be facing France and New Zealand in the first round of the 2016 FIBA OQT Manila leg.
Turkey coach Ergin Ataman recently earned the ire of Filipino fans after saying that he cannot see Philippines winning over France in the qualifying tournament.
“Philippines beating France is impossible for me. Against France, I don’t give any chance to the Philippines. Maybe against New Zealand.” Ataman said via Philippine Star.
On the other hand, Turkey are grouped with Canada and Senegal. They are favored to advance to the knockout semis alongside Canada. They will open their campaign against Canada on Tuesday, which will likely decide who will end up on top of the group and who will earn a favorable matchup in the semis.
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