Instead of dragging themselves after a bitter loss to Italy during their first FIBA World Cup 2019 game last August 31, Coach Yeng Guiao and the Gilas Pilipinas are more determined to win against one of the best basketball teams in the world — Serbia.
“We look forward to playing Serbia,” Guiao said.
“We tried to be positive, be of encouragement to each other. We cannot allow ourselves to be defined by just one bad game.”
Their 108-62 loss to Italy during the launching of the tournament on Saturday was really unfortunate that Gilas, a team of fearless players, looked as though they were not fit to play in such a prestigious league.
“There’s still games left, we need to pick up the pieces and put everything together to play a better game against Serbia,” the coach said.
Italy’s 46-point lead made a serious impact on the Philippines team’s chances of advancing to the next games with the Serbs expected to unseat the Americans and deny them their three consecutive championships.
“Against Serbia, we just want to play with our usual heart,” he said.
“We were shell-shocked in our first game. The level of game (of the Italians) was very high, and if you can’t keep up with that, you’re going to lag behind.”
“Especially against Serbia, that’s going to be the case,” Guiao added.
Serbia, which will be Gilas’ opponent on September 2, has signalled that they have prepared well and has the capability of bagging the title by sweeping off Angola in their first game also by 46 points, without Nikola Jokić using his hundred percent yet.
Guiao is aware that he will witness the similar type of game from the Italians, except that Serbs are better, being able to shoot 69% three-point land versus the Angolans.
“That’s a big worry,” he said of the three-point shooting expertise of the Serbs.
“Their bigs also have the ability to shoot from anywhere on the floor. We had that problem with Italy, so that’s basically the same problem we’ll have against Serbia. Maybe worse,” Guiao admitted.
In spite of the fact that they are about face a better, more driven group, Guiao still hopes that this game, and not the one against the Italians, will be the defining end of their FIBA World Cup campaign regardless of winning or losing.
“The consolation for us Filipino basketball fans is to just see our team fight and compete. That’s what we’ll try to do against Serbia,” he said.
“If we’re going to lose, we just have to play decent basketball. We just have to keep fighting it out,” Guiao added.