GILAS Pilipinas has a lot of catching up to do but Ranidel de Ocampo is confident the team can get into the groove quickly and even believes the nationals have a solid chance of winning the Fiba Asia Cup in Wuhan, China next week.
The Philippine national team resumed training for the first time since claiming the silver medal in last year's Fiba Asia Championships only this month, with its first official tournament this year tipping off on Friday.
But De Ocampo, who had just won his first Best Player of the Conference award in the PBA Governors Cup, is unfazed.
“Sa tingin ko kapag para sa bansa mo, gagawa ka kaagad ng paraan eh para maka-focus agad ang isip mo sa Fiba (Asia Cup),” De Ocampo told Spin.ph.
New players have been activated for the tournament, including Gilas cadets Kevin Alas and Garvo Lanete and a handful of PBA players.
“Dun naman (Fiba Asia Cup), sa tingin ko kaya nating mag-champion, kahit sabihin nating susubukan natin si Jay Washington, Paul Lee saka Beau Belga,” De Ocampo said with an air of confidence.
“Pero basta kailangan nandun kami sa best game namin.”
Gilas is bracketed in Group B that features 2013 Fiba Asia men’s championship fourth placer Chinese-Taipei, Jordan, now handled by former Smart Gilas coach Rajko Toroman, Singapore and Uzbekistan.
De Ocampo, the 32-year-old Talk ’N Text stretch forward, said Gilas could sure get a lot of help from Washington, who like him, likes to shoot from the outside.
The 6-foot-7 Washington was just one of several players recently added by national coach Chot Reyes to beef up the national squad for Wuhan, China with San Mig’s Marc Pingris, Rain or Shine’s Gabe Norwood and Jeff Chan, as well as Talk ‘N Text’s Jason Castro, Jimmy Alapag and Larry Fonacier sitting out.
“Mas maganda yung ganun (Washington’s addition), na may pang-spread ka sa floor. Sa big man kasi sa international, kailangan may shooting din talaga sa labas yung big man eh,” explained De Ocampo, who had a 41.7 percent shooting accuracy from the three-point zone in last year’s Fiba-Asia men’s cage joust.
Gilas placed fourth in the 2012 edition in Tokyo after losing to Qatar in the battle for third.