Gilas Pilipinas banking on depth vs Tunisia

BEIJING, China – Gilas Pilipinas will be pushing the pace in hopes of tiring a top-heavy Tunisia crew in their classification round match in the FIBA World Cup at the Wukesong Arena here on Friday, September 6. 

Tunisia has a shallow bench with 4 of its starters averaging more than 30 minutes and 1 norming nearly 28 minutes – a fact the Philippines looks to capitalize on as it guns for its first victory of the tournament. 

"[W]e know they have a short rotation. Their solid rotation includes only 5 players. Then they have one player who comes in so that the others can rest," Gilas Pilipinas head coach Yeng Guiao said.

"Probably that's going to give us an advantage in the endgame if we're able to force them to work harder. Maybe they'll get tired, maybe they'll have problems maintaining their intensity or energy." 

One of the main concerns for the Filipinos will be 7-foot-2 Dallas Mavericks center Salah Mejri, who puts up 17.0 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.0 blocks, and 1.3 steals in 32.4 minutes of play. 

Naturalized Tunisian player Michael Rolls will also be a problem as he churns out 12.3 points, 3.7 assists, and 3.3 rebounds in 35.5 minutes of action. 

But aside from them, Omar Abada (34.6 minutes), Mourad El Mabrouk (30.1 minutes), and Makram Ben Rombhane (27.9 minutes), only 3 other players log in more than 10 minutes per contest for Tunisia. 

The Philippines, on the other hand, has 10 players suiting up for more than 10 minutes, with Andray Blatche the only one breaching the 30-minute mark. 

"Our advantage is we have a longer rotation. So we'll see," Guiao said. 

Guiao, though, knows that same rotation has worked wonders for Tunisia in its win over Iran and its near upset of Puerto Rico in Group C. 

"They beat Iran, and in the Asian zone, we always have a hard time beating Iran. So we have a pretty good idea of how strong this team is. But we still feel that we have a chance." –

Delfin Dioquino

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.