Gilas out to crash or be crushed
MANILA, Philippines - Croatia, Gilas Pilipinas’ opening-day assignment in the coming FIBA World Cup, will be in Badalona, Spain in the run-up to the world meet, playing the host and Team Mexico in warm-up matches before eventually tangling with the Filipinos in Seville on Aug. 30.
The Croatians had their own sortie in France, playing the French, the Serbians and the Greeks in a pocket tourney over in Pau.
In Antibes, Gilas Pilipinas plays its own warm-up competition starting with a game against France today (at around 2:30 a.m. today in Manila).
The Croatians and the Greeks are expected to leave behind scouts in France to take a look at Gilas.
The Filipinos take on the Croatians on Day One of the World Cup on Aug. 30 then tangle with the Greeks the following day.
Gilas coach Chot Reyes has said they themselves will have scouting reports on their Group B rivals Croatia, Greece, Argentina, Puerto Rico and Senegal.
For one, Reyes is well aware Croatia also has yet to name its Final 12, looking to improve its lineup that merely placed fourth in the FIBA Euro Championship.
Included in coach Jasmin Repesa’s remaining 15 guys is possible naturalized reinforcement Oliver Lafayette from Louisiana, USA.
A Euro Cup winner with Valencia Basket, Lafayette, a sweet-shooting wingman, is tipped to take over from Dontaye Draper who has been dropped from the Croatian pool.
Ten Croatian players who went on an eight-game winning streak at EuroBasket 2013 in Slovenia are still in the pool.
Indiana Pacer Damian Rudez and recent NBA Draft pick Dario Saric banner the returning Croatian players including Roko Leni Ukic, Krunoslav Simon, Bojan Bogdanovic, Mario Delas, Damir Markota, Ante Tomic, Luka Zoric and Luksa Andric.
Among the cage powers emerging from the dissolution of Yugoslavia, Croatia is currently No. 16 in the FIBA World Ranking with a silver medal in the Olympics and a bronze medal in the world championship tucked under its belt.
Croatia is known to be a defensive-oriented team with a tall average height of 6-foot-8.