The Adelaide 36ers are in town for the Goodwill Games to aid the Philippines in its preparations for the upcoming 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.
Gilas Pilipinas will play the National Basketball League squad on Friday and Sunday at the Meralco Gym in Pasig, where only select media and VIP guests are allowed to watch the games. The decision to play behind closed doors was a precautionary measure after the unfortunate incident that happened between Gilas and the Australia Boomers in July 2018 during the Asian qualifiers.
"We anticipate good games against the Adelaide 36ers," Gilas coach Yeng Guiao said during the press conference on Wednesday. "I suggested that we play the Australian team weeks before, but our schedules didn't match, so the SBP [Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas] did the next best thing, which was to invite the 36ers."
"They play high-quality, world-class basketball. We understand that this will be a big help to our preparations," he added.
Adelaide 36ers coach Joey Wright earlier said, in an interview posted on the team's official Facebook page, that the trip to Manila is a great opportunity "to bring the team together and practice techniques that we may use and roll out this year."
"We look forward to helping you guys prepare. That's what we're here for," said Wright, who played as an import in the PBA in 1992.
Consistent in past interviews, Guiao said the coaching staff are "having a hard time with the final 12," saying he will use the Adelaide tune-up games to decide who will fill up the remaining two spots of the 12-man lineup, which will be revealed after the second exhibition game on Sunday.
Regardless of who makes the final roster, Guiao said the team is keen on making the country proud.
"It's a tough group we're in, but we will go to China knowing that we will give our best and we have prepared the best way we know. We will represent the Philippines the best way we can."
Andray Blatche, who was part of the 2014 squad that competed in Spain, said he, Gabe Norwood, Japeth Aguilar and June Mar Fajardo all learned from the last World Cup stint and hope for a better performance this time.
"Just remember what we did the first time (we made the World Cup). Anything is possible. Me, Gabe and some other guys know what to expect now. In the fourth quarter, each possession means a lot, each rebound means a lot. There were games that we could have won. This time around we just need to give the same focus and hit our shots," said Blatche.
"It's going to be a little tougher for us. Teams already expect our style of play and they're aware of what we can do. We're going to have to work really hard on defense and rebound, and hopefully all our open shots we can knock them down."