FOSHAN, China – Gilas Pilipinas' journey in the FIBA World Cup does not end in the group stage as it shoots for that elusive win in the classification round.
On paper, Gilas holds the upper hand as Tunisia stands 20 spots lower than the No. 31 Philippines in the world rankings.
But the Tunisians can't be taken lightly as they stunnded world No. 27 Iran and almost pulled off an upset against world No. 16 Puerto Rico in Group C.
The African squad also boasts of a player with NBA experience in Salah Mejri, a 7-foot-2 big man who played 4 seasons for the Dallas Mavericks.
Mejri averages 17.0 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.0 blocks, and 1.3 steals in the World Cup.
The Filipinos, on the other hand, look to carry the positives from its overtime loss to Angola, such as naturalized player Andray Blatche putting up his finest game of the tournament and CJ Perez continuing to be a revelation.
Norming 10.0 points and 7.0 rebounds in the first two games, Blatche was more productive against Angola and finished with 23 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 steals.
Perez, meanwhile, averages a team-high 16.0 points on top of 3.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.0 steal.
An added motivation for the Philippines to win is its bid to become the best Asian team in the World Cup, which merits an automatic berth in the Tokyo Olympics next year.
With China also relegated to the classification round, all Asian countries in the World Cup are still in the running for that feat, except for Japan which already earned an outright berth as the Olympic host. (Gilas Pilipinas' Olympic bid still alive as China gets boot)
Game time is at 8 p.m.
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Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.