Philippine men's basketball coach Yeng Guiao expects upcoming tuneup games against Jordan and Lebanon to toughen the Filipinos as part of their preparation for the fifth window of the 2018 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers in Manila.
Guiao said Gilas Pilipinas will play the Jordan men's national squad on Nov. 19 and 21, followed by the Lebanon side on Nov. 23 and 25. All games will be played at the Meralco gym starting at 8 p.m.
The 59-year-old coach said the two West Asian teams play a similar style to Asian powerhouse Iran. And that in itself can give Gilas players a feel of what to expect when they host the Iranians on Dec. 3 at the Mall of Asia Arena for the fifth window.
Before Iran, Gilas also will host the visiting Kazakhstan side on Nov. 30, also at the Pasay City playing venue.
The fiery Gilas mentor said the Jordanians and the Lebanese, currently toting 5-3 and 6-2 records, respectively, in their FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, requested the games.
"They also wanted to play the tuneup games against us and they were the ones who chose to come over to Manila as they prepare for their own FIBA window," Guiao told ESPN5. "The good thing here is we don't have to fly out of the country to play tuneup games, plus we have quality opponents for our scrimmage games to prepare us."
Guiao said he is aware that Gilas lost badly to Lebanon last year during the FIBA Asia Cup, and he believes the arrival of the strong Cedars squad will serve them in good stead.
"I'm not very familiar with Lebanon's lineup but I have a general idea of how these teams play. But my expectation is that they can measure up to Iran," he said.
"For sure, Iran is slightly favored over these teams, but then their quality of play won't be that far as that of Iran so somehow. Jordan and Lebanon can prepare us against Iran," added Guiao, who coached Gilas to a fifth-place finish in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.
Gilas is looking to improve on its 5-3 card as it hosts Kazakhstan and Iran, which beat the Philippines 81-73 in Tehran last September.
Former Gilas coach Rajko Toroman believes Guiao's 20-man national pool has all the tools needed to beat Iran.
"Yes, Iran is beatable at this moment. I think that Gilas has the best roster ever with lots of tall players. And one of the reasons is they have Greg and June Mar. In fact, they'll be competitive even without Christian because the other players (in the pool) are good," he said.
"I don't think Iran is strong now. Hamed Haddadi probably is not in shape. He is the (type of player) who comes to shape through the game but he isn't playing now... so I think Gilas is the better team this moment."