MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippines is back at the FIBA World Cup for the first time in 36 years since it last participated in the 1978 world championships held in Manila.
How will Gilas Pilipinas fare in Spain against the teams they will meet in Group B?
According to basketball analyst Enzo Flojo, the nationals will have their biggest chances against Senegal and Puerto Rico.
Flojo believes Gilas can handle Senegal, which he described as a younger version of the Qatar team that lost to the Philippines in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship.
Senegal is the lowest ranking team in Group B, listed by FIBA at No. 37. But it already has four appearances in the FIBA Worlds, the last one in 2006.
“Feeling ko lamang tayo ng konti [sa Senegal]. I think we have better guards than Senegal,” the sports blogger said, referring to the likes of LA Tenorio and Jayson Castro of Gilas, in an interview with TJ Manotoc of The Score.
"We'll have an advantage on the frontline din,” he added, referring to the Philippine team's acquisition of Andray Blatche.
In addition to Senegal, Flojo believes the Philippine team is also capable of beating 17th-ranked Puerto Rico.
“I think we have a chance against Puerto Rico on a good day. On a good shooting day, we have a good chance against Puerto Rico,” he said.
Puerto Rico, which has excellent guards like Carlos Arroyo and JJ Barea, already had 13 appearances in the FIBA World Cup.
“Napaka-exciting to see if they can match Jayson Castro against Barea, Tenorio against Arroyo… it would be a fun match up,” said Flojo.
Completing Group B are Croatia, Greece and Argentina.
Argentina holds the highest ranking in the group at No. 3, while Greece and Croatia are ranked No. 5 and No. 16, respectively.
Flojo said Gilas will have a tough task ahead against the three based on their rankings.
Gilas, which made a splash in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship and the 2014 FIBA Asia Cup, is currently ranked No. 34 in the world. They finished second behind Iran in the Asian championship, while they nabbed the bronze medal in the Asian Cup.
Greece and Argentina have a combined 19 appearances in the World Cup. Argentina also won the gold in 1950 and silver in 2002.
“We're the only group actually na may dalawang Top 5 teams sa buong World Cup, so medyo mahirap talaga,” Flojo conceded.