FOSHAN, China – Coach Yeng Guiao said Gilas Pilipinas' FIBA World Cup opener against Italy will be a "make or break" game, feeling the result will likely dictate how far the team would go in the tournament.
The Filipinos' months of preparation will be put to test as they kick off their World Cup campaign against the Italians at the GBA International Sports and Cultural Center here on Saturday, August 31. (LIVE UPDATES: Philippines vs Italy - FIBA World Cup 2019)
"It's the most important game," Guiao told reporters on the eve of their looming clash against world No. 13 Italy.
The Philippines needs to win at least 2 of its 3 games in Group D to advance to the second round and avoid being relegated to the classification stage.
Should they fall prey to the Italians, the Filipinos must then sweep its final two matches against Serbia and Angola.
However, the chances of beating the Serbians are bleak, considering they are one of the favorites to capture the Naismith Trophy and end USA's basketball reign.
"Actually it's make or break for us. I think if we win Italy, we'll probably make the next round. If we lose to Italy, we probably won't make the next round. It's that important."
"If we make the next round, I think that's already a feat in itself. That's how important the Italy game is."
It has been more than 3 years since the last time the two teams faced each other – a tune-up match that saw Italy hand the Philippines a sound 36-point beating.
But Guiao hopes that game is still fresh on the Italians' minds just so they would get complacent.
"I don't know if they've scouted us as thoroughly as we've scouted them because they couldn't get any material on us. All our games were held behind closed doors, so I'm hoping that worked for us," Guiao said.
"I wish they still remember how they badly beat us so they would relax against us." – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.