Gilas players get much-needed rest before taking on biggest games of their lives at Fiba World Cup
Gilas gets a chance to taper down in training, days before the Fiba World Cup. Jerome Ascano

AFTER Gilas Pilipinas' intensive, month-long training, the national players get the chance to recharge their weary bodies before taking on the most important games of their lives.

The Philippines marks its return to the Fiba World Cup for the first time since 1978 when Gilas kicks off its campaign against powerhouse Croatia on Saturday in Seville, Spain.

But before that, Gilas gets much-needed rest after a gruelling run of 10 tuneup matches which ended with a close 79-86 loss to Dominican Republic in a physical matchup in Guadalajara, Spain on Tuesday.

"Health and rest, mental, that's what we need, in order to have a lot of energy for the World Cup," Gilas team manager Aboy Castro told on Tuesday.

Castro said the loss to Dominican Republic hardly dented the team's confidence heading to the World Cup, where Gilas will play Argentina, Senegal, Puerto Rico, Greece and Croatia in group play.

In fact, the Filipinos drew a lot of positives from the Dominican Republic game, he added.

"We were still tied with six minutes to go (against Dominican Republic). Down one possession with less than a minute to go but we fought hard," said Castro.

"Great way to end our preparation phase. Now we bring some momentum heading into the World Cup," he added.

Gilas went 4-6 in the three-week, 10-game stretch, winning its first three tuneup matches against Miami Pro-Am and Elev8 in South Beach, before opening its Spain tour with an 87-56 route of ACB Select team in Vitoria.

The nationals went winless in the four-nation pocket tournament in Antibes, France, dropped two more games against Euskadi and Angola, before finally ending the slump by beating 2013 Fiba Africa runner up Egypt, 74-65 on Sunday.

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