WE STILL have at least five months before we plunge to action in the Fiba World Cup in China from Aug. 31 to Sept. 15.
That’s a wealth of time for Gilas Pilipinas to prepare for the nearly mission impossible to improve on our one-win performance in the last Worlds five years ago.
Everybody is doing his share in ensuring a favorable, if not decent, result in the event generally known as the Olympics of basketball.
Back in 2014 Spain, we only won once—against Senegal via a pulsating 81-79 win in overtime.
On top of that, we gave our other foes serious scary moments as we simply refused to give up the ghost without a fight.
That could be gleaned from the scores of our losing, but valiant, effort as we lost by no more than four points against three of our four other highly ranked opponents: 81-78 against Croatia, 85-81 against Argentina and 77-73 against Puerto Rico. It is only against Greece that we surrendered a double-digit defeat: 82-70.
“Modesty aside, our good results in Spain I credit to my indefatigable scouting of our foes,” said Chot Reyes, then the Gilas coach. “I travelled extensively to Europe to watch their games and took pains jotting down their weaknesses which we were able to pounce on when we got to meet them in Spain.”
Unfortunately, scouting of our enemies’ games this year will not happen anymore.
“The schedule and the change of the Fiba format has removed the scouting factor of our preparation,” said Chot. “We now rely mainly on the tapes of our opponents’ games. And I’m glad to note that coach Yeng Guiao [the new Gilas coach] has been doing his job so well on this aspect.”
Our initial salvo in the coming Fiba World Cup looks tough as we are bracketed with Serbia, Italy and Angola. We need two wins to advance.
It really looks tougher than tough as we face world No. 4 Serbia first, No. 13 Italy second and Angola last.
Definitely, only a miracle can save us against either Serbia or Italy. But we need just one miracle against the two as Angola appears vulnerable—at least on paper.