HAVING seen first hand how good the qualifiers for the 2014 Fiba World Cup can do, Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes said his immediate goal is to sharpen up his team's outside shooting and toughen up its defense in the run-up to the Spain showpiece.
Arriving from a recent trip to Ljubljana, Slovenia where he watched the 2013 Fiba Europe tournament, Reyes said the national squad will have its hands full playing against the top teams from Africa, Europe and Americas due to the high level of play.
“Very honestly, very very difficult (to win in Fiba World Cup) whether (against teams from) Africa, the Americans or (teams from) Europe,” Reyes said.
“They are playing at a very, very high level because they’ve been playing at that level for years, eh tayo first time at this (Fiba World Cup) level so my concern now is to find ways to play these teams,” he added.
Reyes said if there is anything going for Gilas when ranged against the world's best teams, it is its speed and unpredictability.
“Iyun (speed) lang ang bagay, that’s the only thing we have,” he said.
“We just have to continue getting better in the things we do well and that means outside shooting, the ability to disrupt on defense and just continue to be unpredictable,” said Reyes, who steered the national squad to a runner-up finish in last August’s Fiba Asia men’s championships in Manila.
Reyes said he has started talks with PBA commissioner Chito Salud to map out a plan for Gilas preparation for the Fiba World Cup.
“Everything is up in the air, depending at the (World Cup) draw and the time that we are given, medyo nag-start na kami mag-usap ni Commissioner Salud, but everything is fluid at this point,” he said.
“We just have to continue talking and finding ways to get early preparation.”
So far, 18 teams have already secured spots for next year’s Fiba World Cup.
Newly-crowned Fiba Europe champion France heads the six representative from the continent where it will be joined by runner-up Lithuania, Croatia, Slovenia, Ukraine and Serbia.
Fiba Americas will be represented by champion Mexico, Puerto Rico, Argentina and the Dominican Republic, while Fiba Africa will have Angola, Egypt and Senegal.
Iran, the Philippines and South Korea emerged as qualifiers from the Asian contingent, while Australia and New Zealand will represent Fiba Oceania.
Four more slots are reserved for teams that will be playing in the wild card with host Spain and reigning Olympic champion USA completing the 24-nation cast.