AFTER a morale-boosting win over a visiting Chinese pro club on Monday night, Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes still believes the road to the Fiba World Championships or the Olympics still has to pass through China and Iran.
Reyes said China’s decades-long dominance in Asia as well as Iran’s sudden rise as a basketball power mean Gilas, or any team for that matter, will have to overcome the two powerhouse sides if it hopes to achieve its dream of playing in the world championships or Olympic Games.
“Any qualification grid has to go through China and Iran,” said Reyes, a day after Gilas' 80-72 win over the visiting Shanghai Sharks. “Yes, any road to the world (championships) or Olympics has to pass through those powerhouses.”
Beating China, a 15-time Fiba-Asia champion, as well as Iran, which ruled the 2007 and 2009 Asian championships, will take more than just talent, Reyes insisted.
“The (Gilas) weakness is just lack of time. We only practice once a week. We all know na once-a-week (practice), di puwede kahit sa inter-barangay. Even in our once-a-week practice, we just do shooting and we don’t do up and down, we don’t do five-on-five and no defense,” said Reyes.
“But that would be addressed after the PBA Commissioner’s Cup when are able to go and practice full time starting June,” he added.
The 15-man Gilas squad is set to leave on June 2 for the Lithuania Cup where the Filipinos will play six tune-up games. The fiery national mentor also confirmed that former Lithuania national team coach Kestutis Kemzura will join Gilas Pilipinas at the training camp in the seaside resort town of Palanga on June 2-16.
After Lithuania, the only next big tournament for Gilas prior to the Fiba-Asia campaign will be on July 6-14 when the national team defends its title in the Jones Cup in Taipei.