Team Gilas Pilipinas poses with the national team of Ivory Coast following a tune-up game on Friday night. (Photo courtesy of the SBP).

MANILA — The Gilas Pilipinas basketball team is poised to wrap up its series of preparatory matches ahead of the 2023 FIBA World Cup with a face-off against Mexico.

Scheduled for Monday at 8:00 PM, the Philippine team will clash with Mexico, currently ranked 31st in the world, at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.

Drawing on their experience from the 2014 World Cup in Spain, Mexico relies on their dynamic playmakers and lethal shooting prowess, which have led to several remarkable upsets against the United States over the past two years.

Leading the charge for Mexico are key offensive contributors such as Paul Stoll, Pako Cruz, Orlando Mendez, and Gabriel Giron, while Daniel Amigo and Joshua Ibarra will anchor the team’s presence in the paint.

Coming off a recent friendly game against Montenegro, Gilas will utilize this contest to further integrate Jordan Clarkson, Kai Sotto, and Scottie Thompson into their system, aiming to reduce the turnover count that reached 18 in their previous match.

In reference to the new additions to the team, former Philippines head coach and current Serbia mentor Rajko Toroman, who observed the Ivory Coast tuneup, commented, “This is the first game with Jordan Clarkson. They need time to iron out everything, to build the chemistry. But you can see that Clarkson brings a lot to the game; he showcased dominant play here. It’s just a matter of establishing chemistry among all the players.”

Toroman, also a former consultant for Barako Bull, praised the current crop of national team players, asserting, “They possess size and all-around skills, even players with international exposure like Kiefer Ravena and Dwight Ramos. I believe this is the strongest team in the history of Philippine basketball.”

On the other side of the court, the Filipino squad faces similarities in their game against Montenegro, where they encountered the challenge of Chicago Bulls star Nikola Vucevic. Standing at 6-foot-9, the former Orlando Magic center presents an array of offensive skills, reminiscent of Karl Anthony-Towns, who will lead the Dominican Republic in their inaugural match at the Philippine Arena on the 25th. (ai/mnm)