Gilas Pilipinas' road to Fiba World Cup next round – and to Paris – is long | Inquirer Sports
THERE’S NO EASY WAY

Gilas Pilipinas’ road to Fiba World Cup next round – and to Paris – is long

Gilas Pilipinas vs Dominican Republic Fiba World Cup

Gilas Pilipinas huddles during a game against the Dominican Republic in the Fiba World Cup. -MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

There is a chaos of scenarios and permutations going through the minds of Gilas Pilipinas right now—the team’s chances of grabbing the No. 2 spot in Group A, the things that need to happen for passage to the next round and the country’s chase of an outright ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympics. National coach Chot Reyes wants to simplify the equation.

“The only thing that’s within our control right now is the next game; we can’t worry about the other things that are going on,” Reyes said on Sunday night after Gilas Pilipinas dropped to a 0-2 record following a heartbreaking 80-70 loss to Angola in the Fiba World Cup.

That next game isn’t going to be easy.

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The Filipinos battle world No. 10 Italy looking for an upset that will keep their hopes of going into the next round—and staying in the footrace among Asian teams for a free ticket to Paris.

Gilas Pilipinas is at the bottom of Group A, losing to the two teams Reyes had singled out as the team’s best chances of nailing two victories.

The Dominican Republic leads Group A with a 2-0 record with Italy and Angola glued together at 1-1.

The Philippines and Italy battle at 8 p.m. on Tuesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum and Reyes’ hopes of advancing as Group A’s second placer hinges on that upset—and then some.

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Gilas Pilipinas also has to win by at least 13 points.

And the Dominican Republic also has to beat Angola in an earlier game on Tuesday.

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And if you throw in the Philippines’ hopes of flying to the glamorous French capital to compete in the Summer Games, then Japan has to lose its last game in Okinawa and all other Asian squads have to log just one win to keep the race an open one.

“We hope Japan loses its last game and we win ours then it’s all tied,” said Reyes after the Japanese became the first Asian team to log a victory via a huge upset of Finland. “I don’t know how they’re going to break that tie but in the end it’s going to be dependent on the other games, it’s not going to be on our hands.”

A must win

Chot Reyes Gilas Pilipinas Fiba World Cup

Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes. -MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

It’s a lot to think of and Reyes would rather not deal with it first.

“Whatever’s happening with the other teams is not within our control,” Reyes said.

And the rest of the team seems undaunted with the controllable task at hand.

“We’re still going to fight because there’s a game left. We’re not giving up,” said guard RR Pogoy, who had eight points in the loss to Angola.

“We just have to win, win the next one,” Jordan Clarkson said after producing 21 points and seven assists for the night. “We just have to figure out Italy. We know they’re a good team. We just have to go out there and get one.”

As with the loss to the Dominican Republic, Gilas Pilipinas again committed crucial turnovers and surrendered several offensive rebounds against Angola. And coupled with poor three-point shooting plus the Africans’ timely hits from beyond the arc, doom descended on what started out as a promising game for the Filipinos.

“We fell short,” Pogoy said of the Philippines, who led by 11 in the second quarter. “Then they hit crucial three-pointers. They beat us in offensive rebounds. We’ll look at the video and assess how we lost.”

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“We focus on what’s within our hands so there’s a game to be played on Tuesday. We’re going to come out and prepare as best we can to play a top-10 team [in] Italy. That’s all we [are] gonna do right now,” Reyes said.

TAGS: Fiba World Cup

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