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Andray Blatche of Gilas Pilipinas. PBA Media Bureau

Before plunging into the real war, the Philippine national men’s basketball team test its wares one last time against Turkey in a FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament tuneup game on Friday at Mall of Asia Arena.

Gilas Pilipinas and the 12 Giant Men tussle at 7 p.m. with live coverage on TV5.

This is the second meeting of the two squads both aiming for that prestigious ticket to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

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The Thunder's traded Serge Ibaka to the Magic for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and the rights to Domantas Sabonis.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A week ago after waking up in Paris to flurry of congratulatory text messages, Serge Ibaka wasn't quite sure how to feel about the NBA draft-night trade that landed him in Orlando.

But one text message in particular helped him feel better about his transition from the Oklahoma City Thunder -- a team contending for an NBA championship -- to a young team trying to figure out how to make the postseason.

"One of things that made me feel good at that moment was Dad texted me," Ibaka said Thursday at a news conference. "Before I could get excited and happy, my dad was happy. He congratulated me and said he was real happy for me. That's what changed everything at the moment.

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France head coach Vincent Collet at NAIA1. Photo by Bong Lozada/INQUIRER.net

France head coach Vincent Collet knows the stakes are at its highest in the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

A missed swing could lead to imminent exit as only one team in the six-country tournament can enter the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“We have great hopes, we want to get to Rio,” said Collet Friday at Ninoy Aquino International Airport after the team’s arrival in Manila. “We are very determined, our preparation has been short but the guys are concentrated.”

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NBA

The Brooklyn Nets have waived point guard Jarrett Jack, the team announced Thursday.

The Nets tried to trade Jack but were unable to do so.

They had a Thursday deadline on Jack's $6.3 million team option, of which just $500,000 was guaranteed.

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 Tropang TNT's Moala Tautuaa. Photo by Arvin Lim, ABS-CBN Sports

It's time for rookie Moala Tautuaa and Tropang TNT's bench to shine now that the Texters' lineup for the PBA Governors’ Cup is practically depleted.

The Texters already loaned two of its stars, Jayson Castro and Ranidel de Ocampo to national duty, while Larry Fonacier, Kelly Williams and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser are still in the injury list.

“We were telling them (bench players) to be ready because this could be their chance while they (injured players) recover,” team manager Villavincencio told FOX Sports. 

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Jayson Castro. Photo from Fiba.com

Celebration is far from Jayson Castro’s concerns late Thursday night.

Turning 30 years old on June 30, the spitfire guard’s focus is solely on Gilas Pilipinas’ campaign for the upcoming 2016 Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament here.

But the birthday boy couldn’t hide his excitement as he once again stepped inside Mall of Asia Arena, the same site the OQT will be staged, as the team held its first practice session since returning from its 18-day European trip.

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With Chandler Parsons exit likely, Mavs expected to meet with Batum (July 01, 2016)
Tim MacMahon and Marc J. Spears [ Source: ESPN ]

NBA

Charlotte Hornets small forward Nicolas Batum is expected to meet with the Dallas Mavericks in free agency, a league source told ESPN.

The Mavs are exploring options to replace small forward Chandler Parsons, who sources say is expected to leave in free agency with Dallas declining to offer him a maximum contract and prioritizing other targets.

Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley and Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside are the Mavs' top priorities, and sources say Dallas is prepared to offer both players max deals.

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Alaska backs Gilas despite Abueva snub (July 01, 2016)
Musong R. Castillo [ Source: Inquirer ]

CALVIN Abueva listens intently as Gilas Pilipinas assistant coach Jong Uichico explains a play during practice. TRISTAN TAMAYO/INQUIRER.NET

WITH the furor over the surprise exclusion of Calvin Abueva from the Gilas Pilipinas roster yet to die down, Alaska team owner Wilfred Uytengsu Thursday said his organization is not about to turn its back on the national cause.

While the national team is staring at the prospect of not having PBA stars in the future because of the new Fiba schedule for big tournaments, Uytengsu said they will continue to help the Gilas program.

“Things may not always turn out the way we want them,” Uytengsu, who is in the United States, told the Inquirer in a text message. “But our support (to the national team) is not for political gain but for love of country.”

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Rosario: Abueva’s presence big for Gilas, but I can play too (July 01, 2016)
Randolph B. Leongson [ Source: Inquirer ]

Gilas Pilipinas member Troy Rosario. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

It may have come as a shock to some, but Troy Rosario knows that he did his best to earn his spot in the Gilas Pilipinas’ final lineup.

“May chance na ako ipakita yung laro ko tsaka maibalik yung trust na ibinigay sa akin ng mga coaches at sa management,” he said on Tuesday after the team’s first practice session at Mall of Asia Arena.

“Dream come true kasi hindi ko inexpect na mapasama ako sa final 12. Hindi naging madali yung journey namin doon. Talagang may ups and downs kami dun sa training camp. May good days at bad days. Sa tingin ko, challenge sa amin yun lalo na darating na yung tournament.”

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Clippers to pitch idea of Kevin Durant forming Big Four with team's other 3 stars (July 01, 2016)
Ramona Shelburne and Arash Markazi [ Source: ESPN ]

The Clippers plan to sell Kevin Durant on forming a "Big Four" with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Andrew Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Clippers' meeting with Kevin Durant on Friday will be led by coach Doc Rivers and owner Steve Ballmer, but sources indicate that Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul could also attend to pitch the Oklahoma City Thunder free agent on being part of a "Big Four."

The pitch will be to get Durant to join them this offseason, and Plan B would be to get him to consider joining the trio next summer if he ends up signing a one-year contract elsewhere.

Though Durant is meeting with Thunder officials in Oklahoma City on Thursday afternoon, sources tell ESPN's Marc Stein that Oklahoma City is also seeking a second meeting with Durant and his representatives this holiday weekend.

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