For the thrill, honor of being there
The Philippine national team, said to be ready as can be, doesn’t own a solid shot at victory in the Fiba World Cup that fires off in China today.
But hopes are pinned on the Gilas Pilipinas national squad to make a gallant, proud stand against the world’s best teams in the global championship.
The Philippines has landed in what’s considered one of the toughest brackets in the world tournament.
A list of rosters by the world basketball organization named the big, flatfooted June Mar Fajardo as the most significant Filipino player, ahead of naturalized Andray Blatche.
A week before leaving for the China campaign, Gilas Pilipinas coach Yeng Guiao mentioned two weapons they hoped to rely on.
First, Guiao said they would have their outside shooting locked and ready. Next, he said they have their mean defense to offset the opponents.
Going by the national team’s buildup and composition, the qualities listed by Guiao were, pardon this, partly fictitious.
But do believe in coach Guiao: Nothing beats being there and competing with the world’s best.
“Not too many coaches can say they coached in the World Cup,” Guiao declared.
“Enjoy the moment, make the most of it,” he added.
Guiao said his presence at the World Cup is the highlight of his colorful coaching career.
By the way, after rattling off outside firepower and tough defense, Guiao next settled down and mentioned what seemed a more realistic goal.
He said the Gilas national squad would also go for an outright slot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which will be available to the top Asian finisher in the China World Cup.
The Philippines is bracketed with Italy, Serbia and Angola in Group D.
China is grouped with Poland, Venezuela and Ivory Coast in Group A.
The Fiba bulletin has listed Italy and Serbia as outstanding favorites to advance from Group D.
China has also been favored to move on together with Poland from Group A.
Other Asian teams expected to slug it out for the Tokyo Olympics outright slot include Jordan, Korea and Iran.
Japan as Olympic host next year is an automatic qualifier.
In its last Olympic stint during the 1972 Munich Summer Games, the Philippine national basketball team skippered by Ed Ocampo beat Japan in a contest between two Asian qualifiers.
That was many dreams and several forgotten victories ago.
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