FIBA: Can Gilas pull the rug from under Tunisia?

Enzo Flojo on Sep 06, 2019 02:36 PM
FIBA: Can Gilas pull the rug from under Tunisia?
Can CJ Perez continue his stellar play and lead Gilas Pilipinas past Tunisia (photo courtesy of FIBA.com)

It's been very difficult watching Gilas Pilipinas play at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in China. They've put out the effort, sure, but the execution on both ends has left a lot to be desired and it's pretty clear that the team has paid for the laughably short preparation time they were given.

Now let's look at the general positional matchups we can expect against Tunisia.

BIGS

Philippines: Andray Blatche, June Mar Fajardo, Troy Rosario, Raymond Almazan, Japeth Aguilar

Tunisia: Salah Mejri, Mohamed Hadidane, Mokhtar Ghyaza, Makram Ben Romdhane, Mohamed Abbassi

If our bigs had a hard time against Yanick Moreira and Valdelicio Joaquim of Angola, then boy are they gonna find the going rough against Salah Mejri of the Dallas Mavericks and Makram Ben Romdhane, who plays for France's Saint-Chamond Basket.

The 7'1" Mejri has been an absolute beast in China, averaging around 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game, and he will give Andray Blatche, June Mar Fajardo, and Japeth Aguilar plenty to handle in the paint. Ben Romdhane has been great, too, as a complimentary piece to Mejri who's able to grab a lot of rebounds. 

WINGS

Philippines: Gabe Norwood, RR Pogoy, CJ Perez

Tunisia: Michael Roll, Ziyed Chennoufi, Omar Mouhli, Radhouane Slimane

Maccabi Tel-Aviv wingman Michael Roll will be the one to watch at the perimeter. The 6'5" shooter will be a tough match-up for the struggling Gabe Norwood and RR Pogoy, and I just hope Roll doesn't pop the cap for 20+ points against us. If he does, it'll be another long night for Gilas. 

Needless to say, we'll need another big outing from breakout player CJ Perez to keep in-step with Tunisia and be in a position to win when the clock reaches the waning minutes. If Perez gets cold, too, we're an easy KO for Tunisia.

GUARDS

Philippines: Paul Lee, Kiefer Ravena, Robert Bolick, Mark Barrocca

Tunisia: Omar Abada, Nizar Knioua, Mourad El Mabrouk

The challenge for our inconsistent guards will be trying to stop the duo of Omar Abada and Mourad El Mabrouk. Abada is a speedster with great court vision, and he has a knack for finding Tunisia's bigs in easy spots to score. As for El Mabrouk, he's a streaky shooter, and if he gets going, we'll be in a world of hurt. 

I want to personally see a strong bounce back effort from Kiefer Ravena. He's had a lot of ups and downs in the World Cup, but a breakout performance here will silence the critics and help our chances of maybe still clinching that Olympic berth.

COACHING

Philippines: Yeng Guiao

Tunisia: Mario Palma. 

Coach Palma isn't a stranger to Asian basketball. In fact, if memory serves, he's not a stranger to Coach Yeng, too. Both Coach Yeng and Coach Palma were at the 2009 FIBA Asia Cup in Tianjin, where coach Yeng's Philippines lost to coach Palma's Jordan in the KO quarterfinals. Jordan would eventually bag third place and qualify for the 2010 FIBA World Cup in Turkey. If Coach Yeng remembers that, then that would be great motivation to win today and get one back against his former tormentor.

OVERALL

We are not favored against Tunisia, at least judging by how they very nearly qualified to the second round had they beaten Puerto Rico two nights ago. Mejri will give us a lot of problems, especially if our interior defense remains lethargic, and it'll be a challenge guarding their shooters if our perimeter rotations are still bogged down. Still, a good shooting night and having minimal turnovers will help our chances at springing an upset. 

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