SBP hopes for ‘best’ Fiba World Cup showing from Gilas with at least two wins
MANILA, Philippines — The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is hoping that Gilas Pilipinas can win at least two games in the Fiba World Cup 2023 to surpass its previous outings and emerge as the best Asian team to clinch a ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympics.
SBP president Al Panlilio on Tuesday said the team’s modest goal is to surpass its one-win campaign in the 2014 World Cup in Seville, Spain and its winless stint 2019 edition in Beijing China when the nationals play at home.
“We haven’t hosted World Cup like this since 1978. It’s even been much longer since we were in the Olympics the last time for basketball was 1972. It’s been a while and I think the aspiration for us is, we wanna be the best Asian team,” said Panlilio during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at Meralco Multi-Purpose Hall.
The SBP chief is optimistic that Gilas can achieve it even being slated in Group A, battling the Dominican Republic on August 25 at Philippine Arena and facing Angola on the 27th and Italy on the 29th at Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
“We really want to perform our very best. My gut feel, I think we can do it. I hope we can win at least two games so we’ll have our best World Cup. We won one game in 2014 against Senegal, unfortunately, we didn’t win anything in Beijing,” he said. “If we can do that, we go to the next round and potentially really play for the spot for the Olympics.”
SUPPORT FROM FANS
Panlilio is hoping to make the home crowd proud as the Philippine team hosts the Fiba World Cup, 10 years after making history in the 2013 Fiba Asia Championship where the Filipinos, led by Jayson Castro and Jimmy Alapag, booked their return to the world stage.
“My aspiration is not only to replicate but we can do better, especially our team is playing in our home court with the support of the fans. If you recall, we were in Seville in 2014 and we were acknowledged as the Most Valuable Fans during the games. This was in Spain. It’s not the number I expected,” he said.
“When they play here, there will be much more support from the fans. That will help the team and ignite the team. I’m hoping we’re performing much better than we did in Seville.”
Panlilio said he saw the desire of the current Gilas members to achieve their goal of reaching the next round and gaining a spot in the Olympic games for the first time since the 1972 edition in Munich, Germany.
“The prize is also a spot in the Olympics which again we have not been there since 1972 from a basketball point of view. That’s what the team wants to happen. If we can achieve that, that will be great for the country and basketball,” the SBP president said. “If you watched the games in China, I saw a different team competing there, especially on the defensive end. Again I’m not the coach, but I saw the defense was much better.”
“I’m hopeful that we will do better this time. As I said, we want to outperform the previous competition that we had. And make us proud of what we can do,” he added.
Leading the 16-man pool is naturalized guard Jordan Clarkson. Kai Sotto and Scottie Thompson have returned to practice joining June Mar Fajardo, AJ Edu, Dwight Ramos, Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena, Jamie Malonzo, CJ Perez, Japeth Aguilar, Ray Parks Jr., Calvin Oftana, Chris Newsome, Calvin Oftana, and Rhenz Abando.
Gilas will announce the final 12 on the eve of the World Cup opener as it will play three more friendlies, facing Ivory Coast, Montenegro, and Mexico
“The deadline is August 23 two days before the game. That’s when the team managers meet up and declare the lineup. I know that the other countries have done so but it’s very hard for the coaches to really make the decision I think the next three games in the friendlies will solidify the coaches’ minds of the final 12,” Panlilio said.