Gilas Pilipinas' first practice in Auckland, New Zealand.

Gilas Pilipinas’ first practice in Auckland, New Zealand. –SBP PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–Gilas Pilipinas has arrived in New Zealand for its Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers assignment against the home team on Thursday in Auckland.

The men’s national basketball team, led by coach Nenad Vucinic for the third window, is parading an undermanned squad led by pros Kiefer Ravena and Dwight Ramos against the Tall Blacks.

After arriving in Auckland on Tuesday, Gilas Pilipinas immediately went to practice at Eventfinda Stadium, which will also host the qualifier.

The Filipinos are coming off two exhibition matches against South Korea, which they both lost, in Seoul.

Against the Tall Blacks, who are parading seasoned players led by Shea Ili and returning Corey Webster, Gilas Pilipinas will also lean on young talents like Dave Ildefonso, RJ Abarrientos, SJ Belangel, Geo Chiu, William Navarro, Carl Tamayo, Francis “Lebron” Lopez, Rhenz Abando and debuting Kevin Quiambao.

Naturalized center Ange Kouame is skipping the tournament with a partial ACL tear.

The Filipinos, which has a 1-1 record in pool A, next play India at Mall of Asia Arena on July 3.

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