Gilas 'overwhelming underdogs' in FIBA World Cup, says Guiao
MANILA, Philippines – Yeng Guiao said Gilas Pilipinas will be "overwhelming underdogs" in the 2019 FIBA World Cup after being grouped with two European giants and an African powerhouse.
It will be a daunting task for the Philippines – ranked 31st in the world – to reach the second round as it shares Group D with world No. 4 Serbia, No. 13 Italy and No. 39 Angola.
"Looking at Italy, Serbia and Angola, those are certainly tough teams," the national team mentor told ESPN5 on a television interview. (READ: FIBA World Cup 2019: Gilas grouped with European powerhouses)
"We are not going to get an easy game. We're certainly going to be the overwhelming underdogs against any of those teams."
Serbia – led by a bevy of past and present NBA players – is arguably the most dangerous team in the group, having won silver medals in the 2014 FIBA World Cup and the 2016 Rio de Janerio Olympics. (LOOK: NBA players Gilas may face in FIBA World Cup)
Italy has won two Olympic silver medals and two EuroBasket championships while Angola has reigned supreme in 11 editions of the AfroBasket – the most in tournament history.
"We're the weakest in our group but we're coming with the mindset that we can win at least one, maybe two games. Probably that will enable us to go to the next round," Guiao said.
Only two from each of the 8 groups will advance to the second round while the remaining two will vie for positioning in the classification stage.
"If there's a team that we can hope to maybe upset, it will be Angola. Serbia is really a powerhouse, a world class team certainly. It's the same with Italy," Guiao added in a mix of Filipino and English.
While the Philippines almost pulled off upsets in the 2014 World Cup in Spain – losing to Croatia, Argentia and Puerto Rico by an average of 3.3 points – Guiao believes that will not be the case now.
"Medyo noong una kasi we were taken for granted. I don't think this time teams will take us for granted, and those teams are going to prepare for us as hard as we're going to prepare for them," he said.
(We were taken for granted back then. I don't think this time teams will take us for granted, and those teams are going to prepare for us hard as we're going to prepare for them.)
With 6 months before the World Cup kicks off in China on August 31, Guiao eyes to have the national team train for 2 to 3 months and to have naturalized player Andray Blatche as early as possible. – Rappler.com