MANILA - Gilas Pilipinas has already achieved its goal of qualifying in the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain, but the national team is still dreaming of reaching even greater heights in the 27th FIBA Asia Men's Basketball Championships.
Gilas outlasted rivals Korea, 86-79, in their semi-final tussle to clinch a spot in the World Cup in Spain next year. They also advance to face tournament favorites Iran in the championship game.
Iran is highly favored against the Philippines, as they have romped through the tournament and won their games with huge margins.
Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes said, however, the Filipinos will go all out especially after such a tremendous win against Korea in the Final Four.
|Gilas Pilipinas' Jimmy Alapag dribbles past South Korea's Kim Min-goo. FIBA Asia photo by Yuki Sabio
"We have achieved our objective, now our dream is at hand. Our objective was to win a medal, but our dream is to win it all," said Reyes. "They will have to carry us out of that court tomorrow."
Ranidel De Ocampo, who scored 11 points against Korea, echoed his coach's words.
"Pipilitin po talaga naming mag-champion bukas. Gusto po namin maging defending champion sa FIBA Asia," he said.
It remains to be seen if the Philippines' naturalized center Marcus Douthit will suit up. Douthit played only 13 minutes against Korea as he was clearly bothered by a right calf injury.
Gilas and Iran battle for the FIBA Asia crown at 7:30 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Iran had marched to the finals after trouncing Chinese Taipei, 79-60, in their semi-finals showdown on Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Korea and Chinese Taipei will face off in the battle for third place, with the winner also receiving a slot to the 2014 FIBA World Cup.