Gilas Pilipinas is about to open its 2019 FIBA World Cup campaign on August 31, Saturday.
And for the Philippines to gain momentum in the preliminary phase, the men’s national basketball team has to win its opening game versus the Italy squad, which is ranked 13th in the world.
For now, the Philippine team’s sole focus is on Italy side bannered by NBA players Marco Belinelli and Danilo Gallinari, along with EuroLeague star Luigi Datome. Gilas wants to take care of that crucial Italy game first before making plans against powerhouse Serbia and Angola.
The Gilas Pilipinas 12-man roster that includes five veterans from the 2014 Worlds in Andray Blatche, Gabe Norwood, June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, and Paul Lee, together with Troy Rosario, Raymond Almazan, RR Pogoy, CJ Perez, Robert Bolick, Mark Barroca, and Kiefer Ravenain is in full force in preparation.
“The plan is that our chances against Serbia are lesser than our chances against Italy so we focused our resources on Italy because if we lose to Serbia and we win over Italy and Angola, we’re still going to be okay,” Guiao said.
Only the top two teams in each group will advance to the next round and a crucial win versus Italy would bolster Gilas’ chances with the game against Angola winnable.
The game against Italy is at 7:30 pm, Philippine time.