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Far Eastern University Tamaraws/ (8-2)
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University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers/ (5-5)
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Eliminations, Today - 2:30pm - San Juan Arena
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San Beda College Red Lions/ (9-2)
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Gilas Pilipinas
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Croatia
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Today - 7:00pm - CIS Arena
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Gilas Pilipinas in their historic win over Korea in last year's FIBA Asia Championships. Sports5/Paul Ryan Tan

And it all comes down to this.

After more than 35 years, the Philippines makes its return to the global stage as Gilas Pilipinas begins their historic campaign against Croatia in the FIBA Basketball World Cup on Saturday at the Palacio Municipal de Deportes in Seville, Spain.

The Gilas Pilipinas battle European power Croatia at 6:30 p.m. live on TV5.

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A peek at Gilas Pilipinas’ foes (August 30, 2014)
Manuel Cinco [ Source: Inquirer ]

THE PHILIPPINES’ Andray Blatche (left) will lead the Gilas charge. AFP

GILAS Pilipinas is in Group B of the Fiba World Cup along with Argentina, Puerto Rico, Greece, Croatia and Senegal. Before they go to battle, let’s take a closer look at the Filipinos’ opponents.

ARGENTINA

Ranked third by Fiba in the world, Argentina will be missing the services of superstar Manu Ginobili due to a foot injury. Despite this, head coach Julio Lamas will still have a solid squad spearheaded by the 2004 Olympics gold medalists Luis Scola of the Indiana Pacers, Andres Nocioni, Leonardo Gutierrez and Walter Hermann.

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International Basketball

Before being rechristened the Basketball World Cup, international body FIBA's top competition was known as the World Championship.

On Saturday, the national team will return to the tournament for the first time in 36 years, when Gilas Pilipinas takes the court against Croatia.

Despite the prolonged absence, it's a tournament where the Philippines has a rich history, having competed in the tournament four times, and winning a medal once. Here's a look back at the Philippines' previous stints in the basketball world stage.

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FIBA World Cup players to watch (August 30, 2014)
Michael Lee [ Source: Washington Post ]

Anthony Davis rests between plays during the USA Basketball Showcase game Aug. 1 in Las Vegas. (John Locher/Associated Press)

The list of players who decided not to participate in the FIBA World Cup in Spain this summer could form an incredible team – Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, LaMarcus Aldridge and Russell Westbrook, among others – and that wouldn’t even include the player who had the highest scoring average at the 2012 London Olympics.

But even without Patty Mills – yes, it was Mills, not Durant, who came away with those honors – there is still enough talent to produce some entertaining basketball over the next few weeks. The tournament, which features 50 current NBA players, begins Saturday and will give less-established players an opportunity to make a name for themselves.

Several stars have elected to put national pride at the forefront once again. With the help of the naturalized Serge Ibaka, the Gasol brothers, Marc and Pau, are looking to lead the host nation to an upset of the United States to earn an automatic berth in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Brazil, led by Nene, Anderson Varejao, Tiago Splitter and Leandro Barbosa, is also expected to pose a threat to the Americans reign in the past three international competitions.

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Familiar names in the FIBA Basketball World Cup (August 30, 2014)
Brian Mahoney [ Source: Yahoo! ]

FILE - In this Jan. 20, 2014, file photo, Brooklyn Nets' Andray Blatche, left, tries to move past New York Knicks' Tyson Chandler during an NBA basketball game in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

BILBAO, Spain (AP) — Kevin Durant stands front and center in a billboard that hangs high above the outside of the arena where the U.S. will play its first-round games at the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

But he's not here. Neither are Spurs teammates Tony Parker of France and Manu Ginobili of Argentina. They're all sitting this one out. Plenty of big names remain, from Derrick Rose and Kyrie Irving with the Americans to Spain's Gasol brothers.

There are also players and coaches who are lesser known but still familiar names, though a few of them are with unfamiliar teams.

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Los Angeles Clippers waive Carlos Delfino, Miroslav Raduljica (August 30, 2014)
Arash Markazi [ Source: ESPN ]

NBA

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers waived Carlos Delfino and Miroslav Raduljica just three days after trading for both players, the team announced Friday.

On Tuesday the Clippers traded Jared Dudley and a protected first-round pick in 2017 for Delfino and Raduljica, but it was a move intended to create roster and salary-cap flexibility. Delfino and Raduljica were waived using the stretch provision, freeing up $3.5 million for the Clippers to sign players to veteran's minimum contracts.

The Clippers had until Sunday to waive both players under the provision that will stretch out the remaining salaries of Delfino and Raduljica over five years.

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5 things to look out for in Spain (August 30, 2014)
Jan B. Ballesteros and Randolph B. Leongson [ Source: Inquirer ]

Jimmy Alapag. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

AFTER 40 years of absence, Gilas Pilipinas’ returns to the Fiba World Cup in Spain.

Going against the best of the world will be no walk in the park, and the Filipinos know what’s at stake when they step on the parquet floor from Aug. 30 to Sept. 4.

Carrying our country’s pride and dreams, Gilas Pilipinas is expected to fight tooth-and-nail in Spain.

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International Basketball

BILBAO, Spain -- The 12 players representing the United States at the FIBA World Cup that starts this weekend comprise the youngest team fielded by USA Basketball since NBA players were ushered into the international game in 1992.

When it opens Group C play here Saturday night against Finland at the Bizkaia Arena, Team USA ‎will sport an average age of just above 24 years old.

But Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski and USAB chairman Jerry Colangelo are nonetheless convinced that the 2014 squad begins the tournament in better shape than the 2010 group that ultimately won that FIBA World Championship in Turkey without a single member from the gold-medal-winning 2008 Olympic team.

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International Basketball

THE PHILIPPINES returns to the world’s biggest basketball stage today when it battles Croatia in the 2014 Fiba World Cup in Spain.

The much-awaited hardcourt action will be telecast “live” by TV5 at 6:30 p.m. (Manila time).

The free-television coverage of Succeeding Gilas Pilipinas games in the tournament will also be telecast as it happens in Seville.

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D-League

MANILA, Philippines – Ginebra rookie Rodney Brondial immediately endeared himself to the team's legion of fans as he vowed to work his hardest for the most popular franchise in the PBA.

Ginebra took Brondial with the sixth pick in the recent PBA Rookie Draft. The former Adamson Falcon was visibly overwhelmed as fans loudly cheered him on when he climbed the stage.

"Hindi ako makapaniwala. Sobrang overwhelmed ako, kasi mga idol ko ito tapos dito ako napunta," Brondial told reporters.

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