FOR someone who’s been there, Chot Reyes really, really likes the chances of Team Pilipinas in the coming FIBA World Cup.
Reyes said he’s very positive about the Filipinos’ campaign in the August 31 to Sept. 15 showpiece in China owing to three major factors – groupings, scheduling, and tournament format.
He was at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Wednesday night as he was honored along with the other Team Pilipinas coaching staff by the PBA for their major contributions during the entire World Cup qualifiers.
While the former national coach noted that Serbia, Italy, and Angola are ‘very tough teams’ that the Philippines will have to face in Group D in Foshan, he noted that at least ‘there is only one Top 10 team in our group in the world.’
That’s far different from the time the Philippines competed in the 2014 edition of the world meet in Seville, Spain which Reyes handled.
“Kasi nung 2014 there were three Top 10 teams in our group and nasabayan natin lahat,” Reyes said, referring to Croatia, Greece, and Argentina.
And then there is the favorable scheduling where the team won’t be playing on a daily basis.
“Ang ganda ng schedule ngayon. Laro, pahinga, laro, pahinga, laro, pahinga,” he said. “Unlike before di ba, everyday mabubugbog talaga tayo. So that’s another positive for Gilas.”
Reyes sees the Philippines having a 50-50 chance against Angola and Italy.
“I think Angola, although it is a very strong team, is beatable the way we were able to beat Senegal before,” said Reyes of Gilas Pilipinas’ lone win in 2014. “Italy will be tough, but I don’t think they’re as strong as Argentina or Greece. So I think Italy, may chance tayo diyan.”
Admittedly getting past No. 4 Serbia is like going through the eye of a needle, although Reyes said the Gilas experience in 2014 is proof that anything can happen in the World Cup.
“If Italy is tough, Serbia is very, very tough. Parang Croatia naman yun dati sa atin,” he pointed out.
“But then yung Croatia we took them into overtime. So hindi mo talaga masasabi. We have proven before that we can compete, so there’s no reason that with this team now, with the players that we have, with coach Yeng’s system, and with Andray Blatche in shape, there’s no reason for us not to improve on that previous one win in 2014.”
This year’s new format, according to Reyes, should also benefit the Filipinos.
“We are benefiting from a better format now, kasi parang two wins lang to get through to the next round. That’s why I think there’s a big possibility that we get those two wins,” said Reyes, now the president of ESPN5.
Reyes disclosed he’s set to sit down with Guiao to give whatever help or input he can offer to Team Pilipinas’ campaign.
“Coach Yeng and I have been communicating by text and we're going to sit down soon to figure out if I can help him any way, just to give some inputs, some stuff to think about, whatever help he needs I’m more than willing to give them,” said Reyes.
“Like I said, I’m very optimistic.”