FOR someone who’s been there before, Chot Reyes is convinced his Gilas Pilipinas team is capable of making the semifinals of the 27th Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship.
“To make it to the semifinals, I think we have a very good chance,” Reyes said emphatically, finally opening up on the country’s chances for the first time in the qualifier for the 2014 World Basketball Championship.
Reyes handled the Philippine team that finished in ninth place in the 2007 edition of the meet in Tokushima, Japan, and was a deputy of Rajko Toroman when the original Smart Gilas squad advanced to the Final Four of the Fiba-Asia in Wuhan, China two years ago.
The 2011 semifinal stint was the first for a Philippine team in the tournament since 1987 and Reyes is confident his current team will at least duplicate that feat.
But come the semis, Reyes said it’s going to be anybody’s guess.
“Beyond that, any team can beat any team in a one-game situation. Remember that in Wuhan, Jordan upset Iran in the quarterfinals,” he said.
The top three finishers will advance to the world cage meet in Spain next year.
“But let’s just qualify first in the quarterfinals. Because if one team stumbles a little bit, they’re going to get beat, and we’ve seen that so many times in the past,” Reyes stressed.
“It’s really a very level playing field in this tournament.”
The Philippines is bracketed in Group A along with Jordan, Chinese-Taipei, and Saudi Arabia, while the rest of the 11 teams are bunched together in three different groups.
The top three teams in each group will then carry their respective records in the second round, where they’ll be bracketed in Groups E and F.
The top four teams in Groups E and F then advance to the crossover quarterfinals.