FIBA World Cup: Tune-up vs Ivory Coast a real test for Gilas, says Guiao

Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 07 2019 11:17 PM

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National team coach Yeng Guiao believes a tune-up game against Ivory Coast on Thursday will give Gilas Pilipinas a real feel on how the 2019 FIBA World Cup will play out.

Led by Andray Blatche and Japeth Aguilar, Gilas crushed Congo 102-80 in their first practice game in Spain.

But Guiao said the team's match against Ivory Coast will prepare the Filipinos against Angola, one of the teams they will go up against in the Cup's group stage. 
 
"At 7 here we'll play another game against Ivory Coast. This is a stronger team and this team is qualified also for the World Cup so this is a good test for us," Guiao said in an interview on ANC's "Gametime."

"It will approximate actually how we'll play against Angola, one of the teams in our group and Angola is not a weak team."

Some fans, including President Rodrigo Duterte, are expecting the nationals to run roughshod over Angola.

"Angola ito, pwede natin ilibing ng buhay," the President said. 

Against more physically gifted opponents, Gilas coach Yeng Guiao acknowledged the Filipinos are at a disadvantage. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Guiao said though that he believes Angola can't be taken lightly.

"A lot of Angola players play in Euro league, in Division 1 US NCAA so hindi mahinang team ang Angola. We need to focus on Angola as much as we focus on Italy and Serbia," he said.

Guiao said Gilas' advantages against other teams are skills and experience. But if pitted against bigger squads with the same skill level, that's where his side could encounter problems.

"You know how African teams are. They do not lack in height, they're very strong, they're very quick, skill-wise we're more polished but they're more athletic than we are, they are physically more superior than we are, so nakukuha lang natin sa experience and skills natin," he said.

"If we play a team that is skilled as we are, that is physically superior, mahihirapan talaga tayo. I think Ivory Coast is close to that."

Meanwhile, Guiao again downplayed Duterte's remarks on Gilas' odds at the World Cup. 

"Ayaw naming ma-distract sa mga ginagawa natin, we just set it aside. I'm sure as I said in a previous interview, at the end of the day, the President is going to cheer for us," he said.

"Sigurado naman ako doon, I don't think kailangan pa nating palakihin ang issue."

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