GILAS Pilipinas will play an all-star team led by NBA superstars Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers and Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers in tune-up games in Manila before embarking on their historic stint in the Fiba World Cup in Spain.
Aside from Griffin and Lillard, Brooklyn Nets veteran Paul Pierce and Toronto Raptors gunner Demar DeRozan will also beef up the team to be coached by NBA legend John Lucas in the games set on July 22-23 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The one-off games dubbed 'PLDT Last Home Stand' will be for the benefit of the PDRF and serve as Gilas’ final tune-up matches at home before competing in the Fiba World Cup in Spain beginning on August 30.
The matches will also serve as a birthday celebration for top Gilas patron Manny V. Pangilinan, who announced the holding of the games on his Twitter account @iammvp on Wednesday.
“Happy to announce that PLDT HOME will bring in the biggest basketball charity event ever! Blake, Damian, Truth, DeMar in #GilasLastHOMEStand”,” Pangilinan said.
Before plunging into action against Griffin and Co., the national team will actually be coming off a weeklong stint at the Fiba Asia Cup in Wuhan, China, where Gilas will try to improve on its fourth-place finish from the 2012 edition.
Gilas coach Chot Reyes said bringing in the NBA players could help rally the Filipino spirit as the Philippines mark its return to the Fiba world stage for the first time since 1978.
“This is a fitting send-off for Gilas as they defend the Philippine flag at the 2014 FIBA World Cup,” Reyes said in an official statement.
“This is our grand comeback to the world stage, so having a special pick-up game with a powerhouse cast of players will definitely rally the spirits of Filipinos and inspire the boys to play harder,” added the Gilas head coach.