DOES Team Pilipinas want to be bracketed with Team USA in the 2019 Fiba Basketball World Cup?
National coach Yeng Guiao prefers otherwise, saying he'd rather see Team Pilipinas have a realistic shot at advancing to the next round of the quadrennial showpiece which is slated later this year in China.
“Ewan ko kung gusto natin maka-bracket ‘yun para makapagpa-picture lang tayo eh,” said Guiao in jest during Thursday’s press conference for Gilas Pilipinas at the Meralco office.
The Fiba Basketball World Cup will hold the draw on March 16 to determine where the 32 teams will be among the eight groups in the competition set to take place August 31 to September 15 in different cities in China.
With the Nationals part of the 32 countries that qualified, the possibility opened for Team Pilipinas to be bracketed with Team USA, which will be bannered by NBA players coached by San Antonio Spurs mentor Gregg Popovich.
For Guiao though, he wants to advance.
“Ako, ayoko kasi gusto ko meron tayong realistic chance na maka-tsamba natin ‘yung grupo natin. Pero kung nandiyan sila eh ‘di wala tayong magagawa. Magpa-picture na lang din tayo,” said Guiao.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio echoed Guiao’s statements.
“Last World Cup, we won one game. It’s a group of four teams. If we win two games, that will get you to the next round. Our objective is to do better than the last World Cup which means if we can double the wins from the last World Cup, that gives us a chance to go to the next round,” said Panlilio.
“I support coach Yeng. Who wouldn’t want to have a US team in the bracket. But I want to progress more in the tournament. Puwede pa naman tayo magpa-picture (with Team USA). I rather advance and show the world that Philippine basketball has improved and because of that, we would continue to improve,” said Panlilio.