Former NBA big man and ex-long-time Argentina men’s basketball star Luis Scola believes that for Gilas Pilipinas to perform beyond expectations in the coming FIBA Basketball World Cup in Manila, the national squad will have to “prepare and believe they can do it.”
A first-time Manila visitor, the 6-foot-9 Scola is in the country, alongside fellow NBA legends Yao Ming and Dirk Nowitzki as the three served as World Cup ambassadors.
Now 42, the many-time Argentina national player added that being in game shape will be crucial for the Filipinos since the World Cup format is just short, and every win will count.
“You gotta be prepared, really, really, really prepared,” he stressed. “It’s a tough competition (because) everything happens in a month. So you gotta be in really good shape. And sometimes, people underestimate that, you know, you play a lot of players, they get in shape while playing, but when you have a league that is 10 months, that’s okay, you can do that because a game will prepare you for the next game and halfway through the year. You’re gonna be in really good shape. Now, when you’re in the World Cup, you gotta be in shape.”
The hard-banging Argentine was part of Argentina’s national basketball history after playing a key role in their stunning 87-80 win over the United States in the 2002 Fiba World Cup in Indianapolis. The US team back then was already composed of NBA stars led by veteran shooter Reggie Miller, Jermaine O’Neal, Elton Brand and Paul Pierce.
Scola went on to team up with Manu Ginobili in leading Argentina to a silver medal finish in the 2002 edition.
Two years later, Scola, who played for Houston, Phoenix, Indiana, Toronto and Brooklyn in a fruitful 11-year NBA stint, won the gold medal in the Athens Olympics, then took home the bronze in the 2008 edition, followed by a silver medal finish in the 2019 World Cup in China.
The 2010 Fiba World Cup top scorer closed his international basketball career after making his last stint in the 2020 Summer Olympics.
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