Gilas seeks elusive victory vs Puerto Rico

By Dennis Gasgonia,|

Posted at Sep 03 2014 01:34 PM | Updated as of Sep 03 2014 09:36 PM

SEVILLE, Spain --The Philippine national team will try to go for that elusive win at the FIBA World Cup of Basketball when it tangles against Puerto Rico here at the Palacio Municipal de Deportes San Pablo later Wednesday.

Gilas Pilipinas, which came close to getting the victory twice in this world tournament, will be heading to the game after a day's rest following their thrilling encounter with Argentina.

Expected to lead the squad again are team skipper Jimmy Alapag, Ranidel De Ocampo, Marc Pingris, Jayson Castro, Gabe Norwood and the rest of the locals who contributed much against the Argentines.

Also gearing up against Puerto Rico is a refreshed Andray Blatche, who got much-needed down time after playing through pain for most part of the game against Argentina.

Gilas will try to take advantage of the possible absence of Puerto Rico's Carlos Arroyo as the former NBA journeyman hurt his ankle during their defeat to Senegal.

The nationals will also meet a familiar face in Renaldo Balkman, who figured in a controversial outburst during his playing days in the PBA in 2013. Balkman was having a stellar performance as an import for Petron when he suffered a meltdown that ended with him choking teammate Arwind Santos. As a result, he was banned for life from the league.

However, Gilas is also wary of Puerto Rico's hunger as the former Spanish colony has yet to win a game in the world tournament. Just like the nationals, Puerto Rico lost its first three games. It bowed to Argentina, 75-98, before yielding to Senegal, 75-82. Last Tuesday, it struggled against Greece, 79-90.

Gilas, on the other hand, was dominated by the burly Greeks, but scored near victories against higher ranked Croatia and Argentina.

LA Tenorio said they have learned their lessons from their defeats and are getting better and better.

"Konti na lang," he told "The good thing about this is we're getting better, we're getting used to play this kind of level so hopefully this next two games we'll be much better."

The one-day rest was also important for his teammates, especially those who were playing extended minutes.

Tenorio hopes that by coming in fresh they will win their remaining assignments in the group round.

"Napakalaking bagay to be fresh for the next two games, these next two games are very crucial for us, we hope that we get these two games and advance to the next round," he said.

The game begins at 7:30 p.m. Manila time.

The Philippine national team's campaign in the FIBA World Cup of Basketball is backed by several sponsors including Master Facial Care.