Gilas Pilipinas sets sights on second round in FIBA World Cup
By Nelson Beltran Updated Wednesday August 14, 2013 - 4:14pm

Gilas Pilipinas during the awarding ceremonies at the close of the 2013 Manila FIBA Asia Championship at the Mall of Asia Arena last Sunday. Photo courtesy of FIBA Asia

MANILA, Philippines - Gilas Pilipinas, the FIBA Asia runner-up, will not just enjoy the scenery but chase a spot in the second round as it competes with the world's best in the 17th FIBA World Cup slated Aug. 30 to Sept. 14 in six major cities in Spain next year.

"I think we can win games there, but it depends on the draw. It's hard to make the second round. It's tight," said Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes.

Nonetheless, Reyes said getting to the second round is their goal as they go to Spain as one of three FIBA Asia qualifiers to the 24-man FIBA World Cup draw.

Relieved of pressure and stress, Reyes enjoyed a fine morning playing golf in Wack Wack Wednesday.

"This is my first since Davao (PBA All-Star Week last May). I scored 88, missing four putts," said Reyes.

A chance meeting with a small group of sportswriters in the Mandaluyong club had Reyes delving back to Gilas Pilipinas.

For the first time in 35 years, Team Philippines is competing in the world joust after placing second to Iran in the just concluded Asian qualifier at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

PBA stars Jimmy Alapag, Jayson Castro, LA Tenorio, Gary David, Jeff Chan, Larry Fonacier, Gabe Norwood, Ranidel de Ocampo, Marc Pingris, Japeth Aguilar, Junmar Fajardo and naturalized player Marcus Douthit made up the triumphant Phl quintet that automatically clinched a "WC" spot in outfighting Korea in their semifinal battle.

Reyes said they are likely to battle in Spain with the same lineup unless something happens between now and June next year.

"They're the ones who worked for this. And who do we put there that would make significant difference?," he said.

A sportswriter mentioned the names of Arwind Santos and Sonny Thoss. He answered: "And who do we discard?"

But he didn't totally discount the possibility of changing the roster. "A lot of things can happen. Somebody may get injured or one getting out of shape," Reyes said.

Is enlisting a younger, bigger naturalized players to take over from Douthit a possibility?

He said: "Yup, but I can't speak for Congress. But I think it's doable especially with what has happened. Congressman Robbie Puno has spoken," said Reyes.

On maintaining two or three naturalized players, Reyes said: "It's nice to have that idea but who will pay their salaries, year round."

A team insider said Douthit is being paid $30,000 (P1.29 million) a month on top of his allowance for an apartment and his driver.

Reyes stressed they won't be vacationers in the 2014 world meet where games will be spread over the cities of Madrid, Barcelona, Granada, Bilbao, Seville and Canary Islands.

"We'll keep preparing," he said.

The 24 WC participants will be divided into four groups. Each team plays a minimum of five games playing all the other teams in their group. The top four from each group advance in the knockout stage.

The Philippines has only been to four world championships, with a record finish of third in the 1954 games in Brazil. Caloy Loyzaga bannered Team Phl in that conclave where he ended up as member of the Mythical Five.

The Filipinos finished eighth out of 13 competing teams in 1959, 13th out of 14 in 1974 and eighth as the host team in 1978.

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Saturday, August 10, 2013 @ MOA Arena
5:45 PM - Semifinal Round
Iran vs Chinese Taipei
8:00 PM - Semifinal Round
Philippines vs Korea