Chot upbeat on Gilas chances

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
Chot upbeat on Gilas chances
Chot Reyes
PBA media bureau

MANILA, Philippines — Gilas head coach Chot Reyes said yesterday he’s optimistic of the national team’s chances of advancing beyond the first round of the group stage at the FIBA World Cup this year but a lot will depend on the luck of the draw which will take place at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on April 29.

Gilas’ last win in the World Cup was when Reyes piloted the squad to an 81-79 OT win over Senegal at the 2014 conclave in Spain. At the 2019 World Cup, the Philippines nearly picked up a victory but lost to Angola in an 84-81 OT thriller. Reyes said because of Gilas’ history, it would be a boost if the Philippines could be drawn into a group with an African entry. “Actually, walang pagpipilian kasi lahat malalakas and besides, we should be careful what we wish for,” said Reyes. “In 2014, we almost beat Puerto Rico (Gilas lost, 77-73) and we would’ve won if not for those two triples by JJ Barea in the end.”

So far, 17 countries have officially qualified to play in the 32-nation World Cup on Aug. 25-Sept. 10. Still up for grabs are three tickets from Europe, six from the Americas, four from Africa and two from Asia/Oceania. The available slots will be filled based on the results of the sixth FIBA World Cup qualifying window this month. At the moment, the qualified teams are the Philippines, Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand and Lebanon from Asia/Oceania; Canada from the Americas; Ivory Coast from Africa and Finland, Germany, Latvia, Italy, Spain, Slovenia, Lithuania, France and Greece from Europe. Expected to qualify are the US, Serbia, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Jordan and Iran.

Reyes said too many “moving parts” are making it difficult to pin down final arrangements for Gilas’ training camps in Europe and the US before the World Cup. He said the plan is to set up camp in the US in mid-June or early July for Jordan Clarkson to join. It was a similar set-up in 2014 when Gilas trained in Miami close to Andray Blatche’s home. Another plan is to participate in a four-team pocket tournament in Manila before the start of the World Cup. Reyes said several qualified teams have reached out to SBP inquiring about tune-up games as they intend to arrive early.

Manila will host four groups of four teams each or a total of 16 in the first round of the group stage while Okinawa will take care of two groups and Jakarta, two more. Smart Araneta Coliseum and the MOA Arena will be the alternating venues for the first and second rounds of the Manila leg. From the quarterfinals to the final, all games will be held at the Philippine Arena.


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