Fiba World Cup: Chot Reyes admits no group is easy for Gilas Pilipinas
MANILA, Philippines — Drawn in Group B along with world powerhouses Argentina and Greece, Philippines coach Chot Reyes knows Gilas Pilipinas will have to tread on thin ice to progress in the 2014 Fiba Basketball World Cup this August in Spain.
But despite Philippines’ tough situation, Reyes is far from feeling resigned.
“We really relish this experience because this is our first time in 40 years so we are very proud to have been drawn in the group with Argentina and some really great super powers like Croatia,” Reyes said in a video interview posted on Fiba’s official YouTube channel Tuesday just moments after the Fiba World Cup draw held at the Palau de la Musica Catalana in Barcelona, Spain.
“It is a tough group. We have no dissolutions about our group. It is a very tough group but like I said we relish it and we are going to prepare, we are going to prepare very, very hard,” added Reyes, admitting the obvious since the Philippines will also be facing Fiba World Championship veteran Puerto Rico, Croatia and Senegal.
Croatia, ranked 16th in the latest Fiba ranking, finished fourth in the 2013 EuroBasket.
Reyes had posted on Twitter that it would have been better for the Philippines to be in Group C with reigning Olympic and World champion USA, Turkey, Dominican Republic and New Zealand apart from Ukraine and Finland — two teams Reyes “felt” Gilas Pilipinas would have a chance against — but the multititled mentor would later say how challenging each of the four groups will be for the country.
“For a team like the Philippines there is really no easy group for us in a competition like this. Everything is going to be very hard and in my mind I had mentally prepared, psychologically
already to be going up against very, very, very tough competition,” said Reyes, who attended the elaborate proceedings with team manager Aboy Castro.
“We would absolutely love to get to the second round and to do that I think we need to win two games to give us a chance to progress to the Final 16 and that would be a huge victory not only our team but for the Filipino nation.”
Only four in each group will advance to the knockout round with USA, host Spain, Argentina and Lithuania expected to top their respective groups.
Gilas Pilipinas got a boost from its home crowd in the 2013 Fiba Asia Championship and Reyes expects to have no shortage in fan support when the country plays in the world stage for the first time in 36 years.
“We like the fact that we are actually playing in the city of Seville because we know that we have quite a big Filipino population there in Seville so we expect a lot of our countrymen to come out to the games and watch live apart from the people from the Philippines who are going to fly over to Spain.”
“In the end, our team is really doing it for our countrymen, for our country, for our flag and if we get to the top 16, that would be fantastic. Basketball in the Philippines is not the no. 1 sport but is the only sport, almost. We are fanatical of our devotion to basketball.”