It was a dream very few believed would see fruition at the start. After being crowned as the second-best basketball team in Asia, Gilas Pilipinas now wants to dream some more.
“There are two schools of thought for us here,” Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas vice chair Ricky Vargas told the Inquirer over the phone yesterday. “One is to go there (Fiba World Cup in Spain) as tourists.
“And the other is: Why not put our best foot forward and be as competitive as we can be?”
Gilas Pilipinas achieved its dream of returning to the world championship for the first time in 35 years by finishing second to Iran in the 27th Fiba Asia Championship last Sunday.
“Now that we are No. 2 in Asia, and at least No. 24 in the world because there are 24 teams in Spain (next year), why not strive to be No. 18, or even No. 16?” Vargas said. “We won’t go there thinking that we can win a medal, but we will go there to be competitive.”
Vargas said SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan will meet with the coaching staff in the next few days to map out strategies for the World Cup and the Olympic qualifying in 2015 where the champion will make it to the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Games.
“There’s no question that this is the best team that we have worked with —attitude-wise, talent-wise and what have you,” Vargas said. “But tinkering with the lineup for Spain is a possibility if we want to be competitive.”
As host, the Philippines played in the world championship for the last time in 1978 with a team that was coached by Nic Jorge. That all-amateur squad finished without a win.
The country’s best finish in the early years of the championship was third in Brazil in 1954, when team star Caloy “The Big Difference” Loyzaga even made it to the Mythical Five.
Vargas said the SBP wants to make the most out of the opportunity of playing in the world championship and make the stint one to remember.