Gilas Pilipinas. FIBA photo

Many Filipino fans are praying for a massive upset when the Philippine national men’s basketball team take on powerhouse France on the opening day of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament at Mall of Asia Arena.

Turkey coach Ergin Ataman, however, doesn’t want to keep Gilas Pilipinas fans’ hopes high.

“Philippines beating France is impossible for me,” he said in an interview with News5. “Against France I don’t give any chance to the Philippines.”

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LeBron James. ESPN

LeBron James is starting a process that could see the Cleveland Cavaliers forward become the NBA's first $200 million man and the highest-paid player for a single season in league history in 2017.

James informed the Cavaliers on Tuesday night that he will not pick up his $24 million player option for next season. This move, which was expected, potentially paves the way for James to sign the largest total value contract in league history next year.

James has the option to sign a one-year deal with the Cavs for $27.5 million for next season, which is about $3.3 million less than he could get were he to sign a multiyear deal in which the first year would be worth $30.8 million. Under league rules, the Cavs aren't able to give him the full max next season on a one-year contract.

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 Marc Pingris. Photo courtesy of the PBA Media Bureau

Marc Pingris said Gilas Pilipinas learned a lot from their their blow-out losses to Turkey and Italy during their training camp abroad.

Hopefully, he said, they will be able to use these lessons when they face France and New Zealand in the coming FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Following a nine-day training in Greece, the nationals got beaten by the Turks, 103-68. They also bowed to Italy, 106-70, before edging China, 72-69.

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 Will Alaska be able to end their title drought this coming conference? Photo courtesy of the PBA Media Bureau

Despite failing to win the title in their last three Finals appearances, the Alaska Aces remain hungry in their quest to end a three-year title drought.

Based on deputy coach Louie Alas’ observations during their training sessions, the Aces are highly motivated going into the season-ending PBA Governors’ Cup.

“Kung gagawing basis ang practice, feeling ko hindi napapagod at hindi nagsasawa ang mga players. Yung motivation nilang manalo, nandoon pa rin at hindi nawawala,” he said in the PBA website.

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Kevin Durant has spent his entire nine-year NBA career with the Thunder, averaging 27.4 points and 7.0 rebounds. AP Photo/Doug McSchooler

Kevin Durant will meet with his current team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, on Thursday, according to league sources.

NBA rules preclude any team -- even the incumbent Thunder -- from discussing contract specifics with Durant or any free agent before 12:01 a.m. on July 1. ‎Thursday's discussions with his current employer, however, are more likely to be focused on team direction and broader topics to meet league guidelines.

Durant, who is currently in Los Angeles filming a TV commercial, will fly to Oklahoma City with agent Rich Kleiman on Wednesday night for the meeting, sources said.

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Karl Dehesa now with Globalport Batang Pier. PBA IMAGES

Every guard in the PBA would probably mention either Terrence Romeo or Stanley Pringle as one of the toughest players to defend.

Karl Dehesa, playfully, is somehow relieved he doesn’t have that defensive assignment anymore after he was traded to join GlobalPort’s bevy backcourt led by Pringle and Romeo.

“I’m glad I don’t have to guard them in games anymore,” the 29-year-old Dehesa told INQUIRER.net with a laugh.

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NBA

Croatian big man Dario Saric appears headed to the NBA in time for next season, according to league sources.

Sources told ESPN.com on Wednesday that Saric and the Philadelphia 76ers are actively working on the details that would enable the 7-footer to head to the NBA after playing with the Croatian national team this summer.

Saric told Croatian reporters this week that, as expected, he wants to join the Sixers as soon as possible despite having one season left on his contract with Anadolu Efes in Turkey.

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Gilas combo guard Terrence Romeo PHOTO FROM FIBA.COM

Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin said that his wards must play intelligently and level up to the quality of European basketball if it hopes to have a successful campaign in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament slated on July 5 to 10 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

“There is a large gap between European and Asian basketball, so we have to play intelligently,” Baldwin told The Manila Times during a phone interview on Wednesday. “We have to execute the game wisely.”

Baldwin explained that Gilas experienced the huge disparity between the European and Asian styles of basketball during its 21-day training camp and tune-up games. He added that the final 12 players of the team were selected based on their performance during the team’s games against Canada, Italy and China in a pocket tournament in Bologna, Italy. Gilas also played against the Turkish national squad in a tune-up match.

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The Celtics could use a rim protector who can rebound like Dwight Howard, but the big center brings chemistry concerns with him wherever he goes. Bart Young/NBAE/Getty Images

The Boston Celtics are doing their best to dispel the long-standing notion that big-time free agents won't consider Boston as a destination.

With a meeting already set with this summer's biggest prize in Kevin Durant, the Celtics also have scheduled a face-to-face meeting with free-agent center Dwight Howard, sources told ESPN.

For much of the past two decades, there has been an often-repeated theory that premier free agents won't sign with the Celtics. Boston brass has often countered that the team has never had the sort of cap space to truly pursue the biggest fish on the free-agent market.

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Kobe Paras withdraws from UCLA (June 30, 2016)
[ Source: ABS CBN News ]

 Kobe Paras. File photo

It looks like Kobe Paras won't be playing for the UCLA Bruins.

This after the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) released a statement indicating that the Filipino basketball sensation withdrew from the university due to "academic requirements."

"Incoming freshman guard Kobe Paras, admitted upon condition to UCLA, has withdrawn from the university due to academic conditions of his admission not being met," said the statement from the UCLA Athletics Communications.

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