MANILA, Philippines – National team coach Chot Reyes wants Gilas Pilipinas to reach at least the second round of the 2014 FIBA World Basketball Cup, despite the stiff competition.
Gilas Pilipinas is grouped with basketball powerhouses Argentina and Greece, which are ranked third and fifth in the world, respectively. Also included in their group are Croatia (16th), Puerto Rico (17th) and Senegal (41st).
However, Reyes still hopes the Philippines will pull off a miracle and survive the first round.
“We have no illusions about our group which is very tough but like I said we relish it. We are going to prepare very, very hard. For a team like the Philippines there is no easy group for us in a competition like this,” Reyes said in a Philboxing report by Ronnie Nathanielsz.
Reyes said it would be a fantastic feeling if they reach the next round, which would need at least two wins in initial phase.
“We would absolutely love to get to the 2nd round and to do that I think we need to win two games and give us a chance to progress to the final 16,” said the former PBA coach. “That would be a huge victory not only for our team but the Filipino nation and in the end we are really doing it for our country our flag. To make the 16 would be fantastic.”
But Reyes said that reaching the world level is already an achievement for the Filipino squad.
Gilas Pilipinas finished second to Iran in the FIBA Asia Championship, besting Japan, Qatar, Kazakhstan, and South Korea.
“We are very proud. We relish this experience. It's the first time in 40 years and its an honor to be drawn with Argentina and super powers like Croatia. We like the fact that we are playing in Seville (Spain),” he said.
He added that they anticipate a Filipino crowd to watch their games firsthand in Spain.
“We know we have quite a big Filipino population there [in Spain]. We expect a lot of our countrymen to come out to watch the games live while people from the Philippines are going to fly over to watch the games.”