Hardball: 'Stronger' Gilas has better chances in 2019 World Cup

Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 26 2019 11:55 PM

Gilas Pilipinas celebrate with Coach yeng Guiao after beating Kazakhstan. FIBA.basketball

Expect the Philippines to have better chances of getting past the group stages in the 2019 FIBA World Cup than they had 5 years ago, a basketball analyst said.

For one, this version of the Philippine national men’s basketball team looks younger and meaner compared to the 2014 version that competed in the 2014 World Cup in Seville, Spain.

“I'm expecting that the Philippines will be stronger that 2014. We're going to have Andray Blatche I'm pretty sure,” said Enzo Flojo in an interview on ANC’s Hardball.

“This time around, especially because our ranking has risen significantly from 5 years ago, the expectation naturally for us is not just compete at a high level but actually go beyond the first round moving into the elimination or knockout round or so to speak.”

Aside from having holdovers Jayson Castro, June Mar Fajardo, and Gabe Norwood, this version of Gilas also has young guns in Poy Erram, Thirdy Ravena, Roger Pogoy, and Scottie Thompson.

One exciting prospect is the possibility of Jordan Clarkson being allowed to join the national lineup, Flojo said.

“Who knows if FIBA might actually greenlight Jordan Clarkson's inclusion? Especially when we're talking about the World Cup already. It's unlikely, but it's not impossible,” said Flojo.

He also pointed out that Gilas will be playing under a different setting. This time, a total of 32 teams will be competing in the Worlds compared to 24 in 2014.

“Because the World Cup roster have grown since 2014 to 32 teams in 2019, it will be interesting which team will be grouped with us in China later this year,” said Flojo.

“It's very possible we're going to be grouped with one European team, one American team, one African team and I think the chances of us doing better this time around with a full strength team Pilipinas might actually be better.”

In the 2014 edition of the Cup, the Philippines lost close matches against Argentina, Croatia, and Puerto Rico. Gilas defeated Senegal but fell short of advancing to the next round.

The nationals made it to the 2019 FIBA World Cup after back-to-back victories over Qatar and Kazakhstan in the final window of the qualifiers.

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