AS part of its thrust to connect with basketball fans around the country, Gilas Pilipinas will be playing exhibition matches against a PBA selection to be held in two key cities down South in July.
Coach Chot Reyes said the Nationals are going to visit Davao City on July 19 and Cebu on the 24th to battle the PBA-formed All-Star squad in a pair of tune-up matches as part of its preparations for the Fiba-Asia Men’s Basketball Championship slated in Manila this August.
“With our desire to have our national team represent the country, we want to go around the countryside. It’s an opportunity na makita ng mga kababayan natin ang Gilas Pilipinas, especially those who won’t be able to watch us here in Manila,” Reyes told Spin.ph.
While Reyes said he doesn’t expect much competition from the two-city tour considering these are just mere exhibition games, the national mentor nonetheless said the matches would be an opportunity for the players to connect with basketball-crazy Filipino fans outside Metro Manila.
“Maganda din ito because it is an opportunity for Gilas players to get a feel of the support and love of our kababayans before they play sa Fiba-Asia,” he added.
Fans in the province got a first glimpse of the national pool when it played an exhibition game against a PBA All-Star squad two weeks ago that served as the centerpiece event of the Annual All-Star Weekend in Digos City.
The Philippines will be hosting the Fiba-Asia showpiece for the first time in 40 years, with the top three teams earning slots to next year’s Fiba-World Basketball Championship in Spain.
Reyes believes the country’s hosting would be an perfect time for Filipinos to show their full support to the national team as it tries to make it back to the World Championship for the first time since 1978.
The National had the privilege of playing in the Fiba-World meet 35 years ago being the host country, although it failed to win a single game and placed eighth overall in 1978.