FIBA World Cup 2019: Philippines vs Italy - Match Preview & Predictions
Fixture: Philippines vs Italy
Date & Time: Saturday 31st August - 7:30 AM (ET)/7:30 PM (PHT)
Venue: Foshan International Sports & Cultural Arena, Foshan
Last game result
Philippines: 75-85 defeat to Adelaide 36ers (August 25th)
Italy: 82-88 defeat to New Zealand (August 26th)
Just like in 2014, the Philippines enter the tournament as one of the biggest underdogs. Nevertheless, there is talent scattered on an experienced roster that includes former NBA star Andray Blatche and five-time PBA MVP, June Mar Fajardo. The duo will cause problems for opposing teams, although the Pacific island nation's chances will depend on its ability to get stops on the defensive end.
Meanwhile, the Italian roster contains notable NBA talent such as Marco Belinelli and Danilo Gallinari, although the team has struggled for form in the buildup to the competition. They have lost six of their last seven games, and enter the competition with a lack of chemistry. However, anything other than qualification for the second round will be considered underwhelming, and the Italians will be hoping to pull it together on the big stage.
Philippines - Andray Blatche
Blatche is a nine-year NBA veteran who made more than 500 appearances over stints with the Washington Wizards and Brooklyn Nets. The 33-year-old qualifies as a naturalized Filipino and will carry much of his team's offensive load during the tournament.
Italy - Danilo Gallinari
Gallinari enters the tournament following the most impressive season of his NBA career with the LA Clippers. The 31-year-old is a potent threat from beyond the arc and his ability to knock down open threes will be crucial for the Italians.
Predicted starting lineups
Philippines: Gabe Norwood, Jayson Castro William, Andray Blatche, Paul Dalistan, Japeth Aguilar
Italy: Danilo Gallinari, Luigi Datome, Alessandro Gentile, Marco Belinelli, Daniel Hackett
While the Italians enter the game in dismal form, the team has enough quality on the offensive end to punish the Philippines' lack of defense. However, if Italy's star duo of Belinelli and Gallinari start the game slowly, Blatche can push the Italians all the way. Nevertheless, the Italians should still have enough quality to start their World Cup campaign with a win.