Angola looking at the same chances?
After the FibA World Cup draw last Saturday in China, we’ve all speculated and analyzed the Philippines chances against world power Serbia, European contender Italy and African champion Angola.
These three teams ended up with Gilas in the same group in the glitzy program staged for the draw which had no less than international hoop star Kobe Bryant pulling out the names of the countries.
We’ve all already listed the possible NBA veterans who could suit up for Serbia and Italy, given that these superb players will be free to don their national colors for the tournament. The global rankings and lineups of these two teams make them formidable, leaving Gilas with a challenge to pull the rug from either one of these squads. Serbia is currently ranked fourth while Italy is at 13th.
Angola, ranked 39th in the world and eight notches below the Philippines, is undoubtedly proud of making it to the world tournament and can be expected to look forward to more than just a decent participation. Angola is an African champion team and has already played in the Olympics.
The Angolans could be looking at the group in the same way we are viewing it with the best chance to make it into the next round: To beat the Philippines and hope for the best against Italy or Serbia. The Angolans may have length to match the European powers but will have to bring their best game to compete, skills-wise.
Of course, Gilas should and will look beyond the Sept. 4 showdown with the African titlist. A stunning upset against Italy or Serbia coupled with a win against Angola gives Gilas a chance to proceed to the second round. However, it would be also a mistake to take Angola lightly because of the current rankings or the difference in hoop skills.
Anything can happen in China. In the 2014 games in Spain, the Philippines lost very close games and made the hoop world notice and remember that we were once Asia’s top team and a global contender. The Filipinos lost to Croatia (81-78), Greece (82-70), Argentina (85-81) and Puerto Rico (77-73). The country’s only win was against Senegal, 81-79 in overtime.
Let’s hope that Gilas can again keep the games close against the big guns to have a chance for wins. It will be hard if the leads of opponents are too large for a rally. Even Angola knows that and will try just as hard to make it to the next round.