WITH less than two weeks before the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Smart Gilas Pilipinas is now in the midst of finding its groove heading into the slated tiff in Manila.
Following a solid nine-day camp in Greece and a tune-up game in Istanbul against Turkey, the national team still needs to iron things out in terms of its play.
Gilas Pilipinas suffered a 103-68 setback as Turkey, a country it might play here in Manila in the July 5 to 10 tournament, drubbed the nationals last Friday in the first of two tune-up games and gave it a taste of the competition it is about to face.
Completely outplayed, Smart Gilas was never really in the match against the Turkish team and this will be something that it needs to address as it continues its training.
Andray Blatche led the way for the Philippines with 21 points, while Jayson Castro scored 15.
National coach Tab Baldwin hopes that the setback, along with the experience and chemistry that the team has gained in its grueling European training camp, will help Gilas Pilipinas to achieve tip-top form when the OQT kicks off.
Gilas Pilipinas can plot its revenge as it once again plays Turkey next week, this time in Manila on July 1 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, in their second exhibition match.
Before that, the Nationals will first participate in a pocket-tournament in Bologna, Italy this weekend where they take on the host country as well as Canada, another team competing in the OQT Manila leg, and China, which is also setting its sights on the Rio Olympics.
That stretch will be a good barometer for Gilas Pilipinas and for Baldwin to see exactly where they are in terms of level of play as they continue to face the toughest basketball competition in the run-up to the Manila tournament.
Gilas returns to the country week on June 27.