MANILA, Philippines – After being drawn with at least three powerhouse teams in the 2014 FIBA World Cup, national team head coach Chot Reyes admitted that Gilas Pilipinas should brace for “very, very tough competition.”
Gilas was grouped with former gold medalist Argentina, as well as former podium finishers Greece and Croatia in Group B.
Senegal and Puerto Rico complete the group.
“For a team like us, the Philippines, no group is going to be easy,” Reyes said in an interview with PBA.ph. “Everything is going to be hard. In my mind, I prepared psychologically that it would be a very, very tough competition.”
“It’s a tough group, but we relish it. We’ll prepare very hard,” he added.
Reyes and team manager Aboy Castro were both in Barcelona to watch the draw, and the head coach noted that just being in the draw was “already a dream come true for us.”
“We relish this experience. It’s the first time in long, long years,” said Reyes. “It means a whole lot to our country.”
The Philippines qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 36 years after finishing in second place in the FIBA Asia Championship last year, losing to Asian champions Iran in the gold medal game.
“We would love to make the second round,” Reyes said. “To do that, we have to win two games to have a chance to progress to the round of 16.”
“That would be a huge win, not only for our team, but the whole Filipino nation. In the end, it would be for the country, our countrymen, our flag,” he added.
Gilas will be playing their games in Seville, something that Reyes also welcomes.
“We also like the fact that we’re playing in the city of Seville. We know we have a big Filipino population in the city, and we expect them to come over, apart from the Filipinos flying over from Manila,” he said.
Hosts Spain were drawn in Group A along with Serbia, France, Brazil, Egypt and Iran, while reigning champions United States were in Group C with the Dominican Republic, Turkey, Finland, New Zealand, and Ukraine.
Lithuania, Slovenia, Angola, Korea, Mexico and Australia make up Group D.
The FIBA World Cup will take place from August 30 to September 14.