HOPE springs eternal for Gilas Pilipinas Youth heading to the knockout phase of the 2019 Fiba Under-19 World Cup in Heraklion, Greece.
Coach Sandy Arespacochaga said his boys remains resolute despite dropping all of their three assignments in the group stages.
"We are keeping a positive mindset going into the next game," he told SPIN.ph on Wednesday.
The Philippines lost to host Greece, 85-69, before suffering a tight 77-72 defeat to Argentina. It also fell to Russia, 92-64, to go 0-3 in Group C.
Despite those results, Gilas Youth is still heading to the Round of 16, but will have a tall task on hand with world No. 4 Serbia waiting in the wings.
The game is scheduled to start late Wednesday evening at 11:15 p.m. (Manila time) at Heraklion Indoor Sports Arena.
If Gilas can somehow find a way past Serbia, the teenagers are in line for a quarterfinal meeting with Australia, which faces Lithuania in its own round-of-16 match.
From there, the survivor from the lower half of the bracket will likely take on top seed Team USA, which has Fil-Am high-flyer Jalen Green in its roster.
"Each game has been a learning experience for us and we want to keep improving and keep fighting against the world’s best," said Arespacochaga, whose side has been hobbled by ACL injury suffered by Fil-Nigerian center AJ Edu on opening day.
Through three games, Kai Sotto and Dave Ildefonso have established themselves as the cornerstones of the squad.
The 7-foot-2 Sotto has been averaging 14.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and a tournament-best 5.0 blocks.
Ildefonso, meanwhile, is the team's best scorer with 16.0 points per outing, on top of 6.7 boards, 3.3 assists, and 1.3 steals.
Arespacochaga, however, would need more contributions from the team to shoot the upset over the favored Serbs.