Former national team head coach Chot Reyes believes that Gilas Pilipinas has a chance in qualifying to the second round of the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.
Reyes admitted that the Philippine national men’s basketball team faces though opponents after being placed in Group D with Serbia, Italy, and Angola.
However, the veteran coach said that the Philippines has a better chance this year compared to the country’s campaign during the 2014 World Cup in Spain where they faced Croatia, Greece, and Argentina, who are among the top 10 teams in the FIBA World Rankings.
“At least there’s only one top 10 team in the world in our group,” said Reyes who was referring to Serbia, which currently places 4th in the world rankings.
“Unlike in 2014 when there were three top 10 teams in our group and we went side by side with them,” Reyes added.
During the previous World Cup, Philippines bowed out of the tournament after finishing with a 1-4 win-loss record during the first round. The country seized their sole victory during the game against Senegal.
Reyes trusts that the Philippines can win against Angola, ranked 39 in the world, and Italy, ranked 13 in the world, even though both teams are strong.
“Angola, although, they’re a very strong team, is beatable the way we were able to beat Senegal before,” Reyes explained.
“Italy will be tough, but I don’t think they’re as strong as Argentina or Greece. I think we have a chance against Italy,” Reyes added.
Reyes also noted that the Philippines will have a hard time when they face Serbia, who finished second place during the 2014 world cup after losing to the champions United States of America in the finals.
“Serbia, admittedly, will be very, very tough. They’re like Croatia before during our time but then we took Croatia to overtime so you can’t really tell,” Reyes said.
Reyes expects that Gilas Pilipinas will only need two wins in order to secure a slot in the second round of the competition. Only the top two teams from Group D will advance the next round.
“We have proven before that we can compete and with this team now, with the players that we have, with coach Yeng’s system, and with Andray Blatche in shape, there’s no reason for us not to improve on that previous one win in 2014,” Reyes added.
“I think if we get to two wins, that might be enough to get us to the next round,” Reyes said.
The known basketball mentor added that the Philippine team has a favorable schedule since they will have a break after their every game.
Reyes also revealed that he is in constant communication with the current head coach of Gilas Pilipinas, Joseller ‘Yeng’ Guiao, and promised that he will give any help for the country’s 2019 World Cup campaign, which will start on August 31.
Group D will hold their games at the Foshan International Sports and Cultural Center.