Guiao to think about Jokic after Gilas opener vs Italy
MANILA, Philippines – Even if Serbian NBA player Nikola Jokic has been making headlines this early in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Gilas head coach Yeng Guiao still prefers to think about his biggest threat after the opening game against Italy on Saturday, August 31.
"If we’re going to talk about Serbia and Jokic, but we haven’t played Italy yet, it might be better use of our energy and time to first focus on Italy," Guiao told reporters in the recent Philippine Sportswriters Association forum at the Amelie Hotel.
Gilas is fully aware of the capabilities of the 7-foot big man after he led the Denver Nuggets to an unexpected No. 2 seed in the Western Conference in the 2019 NBA playoffs.
Although Jokic missed the 2014 FIBA World Cup campaign, the Serbian star's improved presence at the paint and exceptional passing skills may just power the squad deeper into the competition.
"Jokic might be a problem [in our game] against Serbia, but Jokic is just someone who will play smart and facilitate his teammates. Jokic keeps himself as a threat, but the rest of his NBA teammates are the guys killing the opponents," said Guiao.
After playing Italy, Gilas will only have a one-day break before they face the Serbs on Monday, September 2. (READ: China-bound Gilas nears peak form for FIBA World Cup 2019)
Despite the limited time to focus, Guiao vows that the team will still come well-prepared against Group D's top-ranked team.
"We’ve talked about Serbia already but we haven’t put in a scheme that deep yet."
"This is our plan because our chances of winning against Serbia is smaller than Italy, so we focused our scouting on the greater percentage of winning. The time we have there to focus is very short."
Gilas Pilipinas left for Foshan, China, Thursday morning, August 29, and will immediately get to work on the same night. – Rappler.com