Yeng Guiao on facing Italy, Serbia in World Cup: ‘A miracle can happen’
National team head coach Yeng Guiao admitted the Philippines will be shooting for the stars against world basketball powers Serbia and Italy in the 2019 Fiba World Cup.
But despite the seemingly insurmountable task for Gilas Pilipinas to get past the first round, Guiao remains a firm believer that it can be done.
“I’m not going to say that this is the group of death but like I said, we’re overwhelming underdogs but maybe this is the group of near death,” Guiao told reporters Sunday night a day after the 2019 Fiba World Cup draw.
“Against Italy and Serbia, it will almost take a miracle to beat those teams, but the good thing about me is I believe in miracles. I believe that a miracle can happen. We just need to prepared for us to be able to do that.”
The Philippines, which is ranked 31st in the world, was drawn into Group D with No. 4 Serbia, No. 13 Italy and 39th ranked Angola.
Serbia and Italy are home to several NBA residents and although their availability playing for their home country is still uncertain, Guiao is already bracing for the worst.
“As I said, I was looking at Italy and Serbia’s NBA players and if those guys are going to play, we’re really going to have a hard time.”
Among the notable Serbians currently playing in the NBA are Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic, who is one of the best big men in the NBA, Philadelphia 76ers’ 7-foot-3 giant Boban Marjanovic and Sacramento Kings’ 6-foot-6 sweet-shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic.
Italy meanwhile, has the likes of Los Angeles Clippers swingman Danilo Gallinari and San Antonio Spurs guard Marco Belinelli.
The Philippines, which is making its second straight appearance in the World Cup, opens its campaign against Italy on August 31 in Foshan City, China before taking on Serbia two days later and Angola on September 4.
Guiao likes Gilas’ order of games.
“That’s good for us. It just means to say that when you face Italy on your first game, you have to bring everything you have. By the time we play our first game when we get there we should be ready to play 100 percent. There’s no such thing as getting warmed up first.”
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