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Phl faces Ivory Coast, Montenegro, Mexico

NIKOLA Vucevic and Montenegro face Gilas Pilipinas in a friendly match for the FIBA Basketball World Cup. FIBA PHOTO

After an impressive stint in China, Gilas Pilipinas’ buildup continues as it battles Ivory Coast, Montenegro and Mexico in a series of friendly matches for the FIBA Basketball World Cup set from 25 August to 10 September.

Gilas team manager Butch Antonio told Daily Tribune that they will face Ivory Coast on 18 August,  Montenegro on 20 August and Mexico on 21 August as part of their preparation for the prestigious 32-nation conclave.

Games, however, will be held behind closed doors.

Still, Gilas are tipped to gain good experience when they collide with the Ivorians powered by Vafessa Fofana, Souleyman Diabate, Maxene Dadiet and Guy Edi.

Antonio said facing Ivory Coast will help them prepare against African powerhouse Angola, the world’s No. 41 team that is bracketed with the Philippines in Group A together with No. 10 Italy and No. 23 Dominican Republic.

Meanwhile, their duel with Montenegro will serve as a fitting warm-up against Italy.

Montenegro, a breakaway country from Serbia, had lost its past two tuneup matches to Rudy Gobert and France, 69-80 in the France Summer Tour and against Luka Doncic and Slovenia, 100-104.

But the Montenegrins are still a strong force to be reckoned with as it parades a National Basketball Association star in 6-foot-10 Nikola Vucevic of the Chicago Bulls.

Facing Mexico will also be beneficial to the Filipinos as they play the same style as the Dominican Republic.

Without an NBA player on their roster, it will be interesting to see how formidable this Mexican team is, which defeated Columbia three times in tuneup matches before beating Argentina twice to wrap up the Gira National with a perfect record.

Mexico also nipped Angola, 78-76, as well as Portugal, 79-71, before losing to Jordan, 72-86, in the Kings’ Cup.

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