Mission improbable starts for National 5 | Inquirer Sports

Mission improbable starts for National 5

Definitely short in size but big in heart, Gilas opens World Cup bid against Italy and its two NBA vets
/ 05:45 AM August 31, 2019

The Nationals huddle for the last time before flying out for Foshan in China. —TRISTAN TAMAYO

National coach Yeng Guiao has talked about scaling mountains in the weeks leading up to the Fiba World Cup.

He got a glimpse of just how steep that climb would be for Gilas Pilipinas shortly after the team’s arrival in Foshan on Thursday.


“It reinforces the things that we already know: [Italy’s] taller than us and they look stronger,” Guiao told ESPN5.


The Philippines opens its World Cup campaign—and a bid to become the best Asian team for an outright Olympics berth—when they go up against the Italians at Foshan International Sports and Cultural Arena at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

“We’ll have to figure out a way to overcome these disadvantages to win,” Guiao said of the Italians, who stand at an average of 6’7,” which is significantly taller than the Filipinos, who are penciled at 6’4.”

Guiao, in an earlier interview, said that they hope to take down the Italians by turning to their defense and their chemistry—which was built on limited time.

“If we’re only going to rely on our scoring, definitely, they’d wind up doing better,” Guiao told the Inquirer, citing their opponent’s glut of weapons.

“[Also], the kind of togetherness this team has—it goes a long way. It will help us a lot on the court,” he added.

Gilas will be left with no room for error as they try to chalk up at least two victories in Group D play where they are joined by World No. 4 Serbia and No. 39 Angola.


“Let’s assume we’re going to lose to Serbia,” said Guiao, citing realistic chances and practically saying that the game against the Italians is a must-win.

The top two countries in each group advance to the next round.

The Filipinos, though, will be bringing an optimistic feeling in their first assignment, even with the Italians being led by NBA talents Danilo Gallinari and Marco Belinelli.

Italy limped its way into the global meet, dropping their last five tuneup games, which included Greece, Turkey and France. They bowed to Serbia twice, even suffering a 20-point loss in one meeting.

The Philippines, meanwhile, won three of its four friendlies in their camp in Spain. They eventually split two contests with an Aussie club back home.

The last time the two countries met in the global meet was in 1978 where the Filipinos absorbed a 112-75 drubbing.

Meanwhile, Rain or Shine, which represented the country in last year’s Palembang Asian Games in Indonesia, once again showed its commitment to Philippine basketball by supporting Gilas Pilipinas in its campaign in China.

And because of its noble deeds in the past, the leading elastomeric paint in the country has been appointed by Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas as the official paint partner of the team.

In a statement, Rain or Shine management said: “This is out little way of showing our commitment and support to uplift the game of basketball in the country.”

“We are fully committed to our national team and we are one with the entire Filipino nation in wishing them the best of luck.”

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Rain or Shine also stated that it is willing to lend its players to the national team in future international events just like what it did last year.

TAGS: Basketball, Fiba World Cup, Gilas Pilipinas, Sports

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