What kind of competition will Gilas Pilipinas be up against when the 2014 FIBA World Championship tips off on August 30? Here’s a closer look at the teams in Group B, their key players and how the Philippines’ Men’s National basketball team matches up with them.
For a lot of Pinoy hoop nuts, the most familiar name on this list will be young Minnesota Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng. He wasn’t part of this team when it placed third in the 2013 Afrobasket, but he will surely be there in Spain.
- FIBA Ranking: 41
- How they qualified: Placed third at 2013 FIBA Africa Championship
- Date of Gilas game: September 4
In a recent tune-up game against no less than the World Cup hosts Spain, Dieng tallied 12 points and 11 rebounds as the Lions lost, 49-88. Despite that sorry result, look for the 6-foot-11 24-year-old to be a focal point of coach Cheik Sarr’s system moving forward.
Senegal hasn’t released its final dozen yet, but I surmise that the shoo-ins will include Mouhammad Faye, Mouhamed Sene, and the two Ndoyes — Maleye and Mamadou.
Along with them will probably be US NCAA Division 1 players Louis Adams of South Carolina State, Maurice Ndour of Ohio University, and Thierno Niang of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Of those mentioned, the most intriguing are Faye and Maleye Ndoye. Because Dieng will probably take up much of the playing time at center, Sene’s role will be reduced somewhat, but Faye at the 4 should be a good complement to Dieng.
Maleye Ndoye, meanwhile, will be the team’s best bet at a threat from the wings. He led Senegal in scoring, steals, FG percentage, and three-pointers made in Afrobasket 2013. Not surprisingly, he was named Best Forward of the tournament.
How does Gilas match up?
At the onset, we’ll have trouble matching up with Senegal in terms of length and athleticism. Andray Blatche and Japeth Aguilar can match-up quite well, but things will get tough when guys like Ranidel De Ocampo, Marc Pingris, and June Mar Fajardo take the floor. Needless to say, Gorgui Dieng, Mouhammad Faye, and Maleye Ndoye will make life hard up front for Gilas.
Conversely, Blatche will be tough to guard for Senegal. Because Blatche mainly plays from the perimeter, it’s possible he’ll drag someone like Dieng or Sene out of the paint, and this could potentially mean driving lanes will be open for our guards. As of this writing, though, we might not even be able to exploit this due to the possible absence of Jayson Castro, who went down against the Euskadi-Basque team with a possible Achilles tendon tear.
As will be the case with all our games, outside shooting will be a significant barometer of success. Jeff Chan, Gary David, Jimmy Alapag, and Gabe Norwood will all need to be on-target for Gilas to have the advantage against the Senegalese. Defensively, our backcourt can match up relatively well in terms of size, although all of the Lions’ guards can also shoot well from long range.
Overall, Gilas, as long as the guys are healthy and shoot well, should still have the advantage, thanks mainly to the presence of Blatche.
|PF||Abou Badji||22||6’9||Neuchatel Basket|
|PG/SG||Mamadou Ndoye||34||6’3||Univ. of Gaston Berger Saint-Louis|
|PG/SG||Thierno Niang||24||6’1||Univ. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee|
|SF||El Hadji Ndiaye||27||6’5||Tapaces Gabe|
|PF||Maurice Ndour||22||6’9||Ohio University|
|PF||Djibril Thiam||28||6’10||Sitra Club|
|PF||Ibrahima Thomas||27||6’11||Al Sadd|
|C||Gorgui Dieng||24||6’11||Minnesota Timberwolves|
|C||Hamady Ndiaye||27||7’0||Delaware 86ers|
|C||Mouhamed Sene||28||6’11||Antibes Sharks|
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