WHILE LA Tenorio is busy with Barangay Ginebra’s Philippine Cup semifinal series against San Mig Super Coffee, part of him also looks forward to the Fiba World Cup, especially after learning that Gilas Pilipinas will be bracketed against the tough Argentina, Greece and Puerto Rico.
“Of course, I’m looking forward to playing against Argentina, sila Luis (Scola), (Manu) Ginobili tapos sa Puerto Rico sina (JJ) Barea and (Carlos) Arroyo, yes I’m looking forward to that, but mas looking forward ako playing sa World Cup,” said Tenorio, who played a significant role in Gilas Pilipinas’ silver-medal finish in last year’s Fiba-Asia men’s championship held in Manila.
The second-place finish ushered the country’s return to the Fiba World basketball showpiece for the first time since 1978, when the Philippines was given a slot as the host.
But the Ginebra star guard said it really doesn’t matter which countries they face because each team in the tournament is world-caliber.
“Di ko tinitingnan ang grupo namin kasi once-in-a-lifetime opportunity 'yun (playing in the Fiba World Cup), so kung sino ka-grupo namin, we just have to be ready,” he added.
Two wins in five games in the first round could more or less mean safe passage to the final 16 - a feat which Tenorio said is extremely difficult but not impossible.
“Mahirap pero I think magkakaroon naman kami ng chance pumasok sa second round,” he said.
“I heard na kailangan namin manalo ng dalawa at least sa grupo namin, pero we’ll see. Di pa namin nakikita ng buo ang teams (in their bracket) kung paano sila maglaro. Si coach pa lang nakakakita, but we’ll never know.”
Gilas Pilipinas, which is bracketed in Group B, will open its campaign in the Fiba-World Cup against Croatia on August 30 before facing Greece on August 31. The PBA-backed squad then takes on powerhouse Argentina on September 1 before taking a break on September 2.
The Nationals return to action on September 3 against Puerto Rico, then wrap up the preliminaries on September 4 against Senegal.