MANILA, Philippines -- With just two days left before the Philippines plunges into action in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, the team's concentration is fully on its first game against Italy.
Coach Yeng Guiao said they have "tunnel vision" with regards to their schedule in Group D, as all of their focus is on their match-up against the Italians on August 31 at the Foshan International Sports and Cultural Arena.
"Right now, we're really focused on scouting the Italians first. Naka-tunnel vision kami kasi we feel that that's going to be our most important game, the Italy game. So, all our resources in terms of scouting, in terms of the time, has been focused on that," said Guiao.
This does not mean that they have not done their homework on the other members of their group, namely powerhouse Serbia and Angola. But Guiao said they have not talked about those games with the team, as they might distract Gilas Pilipinas from the task at hand.
"Wala pa kaming ini-input na scheme or game plan for Serbia, wala pa rin sa Angola. Might just be distractions at this point, because we feel that the most important game we will play will be the Italy game," he said.
Italy is ranked 13th in the world, and features a strong roster that includes Marco Belinelli of the San Antonio Spurs, Danilo Gallinari of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Luigi Datome of Fenerbahce. The last two players, in particular, have given Guiao reason to be concerned.
"We liked our chances better when Galinari and Datome were not playing. Now we know they're playing because the scouting reports provided us told us that they were already suited up, they were playing," he said.
"So ano na, lumalim na 'yung bench nila. Their bench got deeper, and it got deeper with quality players, NBA players," he added.
Thus, for all of Gilas' improvements over the past couple of months, Italy remains the bigger, more talented team, and Guiao knows it will take nothing less than their best just to stay within striking distance of the European powerhouse.
"We're just hoping that we perform close to our best when we play on Saturday," he said.
"To me, it's really a question of execution on Saturday. If we execute well and we see the effort's there, we should have a chance against Italy," he also said.
Gilas Pilipinas is set to arrive in Foshan, China on Thursday.
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