A Spanish national team, most of them playing in the NBA, will be one of the three crack teams Gilas Pilipinas will be facing in a pocket tournament early August in Spain.
Head coach Yeng Guiao confirmed to FOX Sports Philippines that it was Spain’s basketball federation which arranged the pocket tournament.
With NBA players like Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Victor Claver, Rudy Fernandez, and Willy Hernangomez bolstering the squad, Spain would be a formidable force in the FIBA World Cup and Gilas Pilipinas will take advantage of that chance opportunity playing one of the world’s best.
“We leave August. They have three games. We play Congo, Ivory Coast and Spain. Actually ang naghanda dito para sa atin yung Spain mismo,” Guiao said in an exclusive interview.
“Tingin ko doon sa Spain contender yan, so I think it’s a good workout for us. They have several NBA players and they will be playing against us. Napakagandang preparation for us.”
Gasol will lead the Spanish team.
A member of newly-crowned NBA champion Toronto Raptors, Gasol is the younger brother of multiple champion Pau Gasol. The younger Gasol was chosen as NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 and has played in the NBA All-Star three times.
A two-time Olympian, Gasol was also a part of the Spanish team that placed second to USA in 2008 and again in London in 2012. Rubio, a point guard from the Phoenix Suns, was also a long-time teammate of Gasol.
Claver, a 6-foot-9 forward, was selected in the first round of the 2009 Rookie Draft by the Portland Trailblazers, but spent the past few years playing in Russia and his hometown country Spain.
Fernandez, a 6-foot-5 wingman, has played in three Olympic teams from 2008 to 2016. He has played for the Portland Trailblazers and the Denver Nuggets before moving back to Spain to play for Real Madrid.
Last year, Fernandez was chosen as the Finals MVP of the Spanish League.
Hernangomez is one of two siblings included in the Spanish roster. He is an NBA journeyman who has played for the New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors, and Charlotte Hornets. In two seasons in the NBA, he has averaged seven points per game.