September 03, 2019

Guiao on FIBA World Cup stint: "We need the exposure to this level of play"

Gilas Pilipinas coach Yeng Guiao views the back-to-back blowout losses to Italy and Serbia as a "hard lesson" for a side that's still getting their feet wet in the quadrennial FIBA Basketball World Cup.

"We're playing Asian level and competing very well but of course the world level is different, several notches different," said the Philippine team mentor after Monday night's 67-126 beating from hot favorite Serbia in the Group D competition in Foshan, China.

"We need certain types of players, we need the exposure to this level of play. So these are the things that I guess we need to work on and it's long term, I don't think there's a short term solution to that so it's a learning experience, definitely."

The Philippines has cracked the FIBA Basketball World Cup under the current qualification format only recently.

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Composed of the PBA's brightest and naturalized Andray Blatche, the Filipinos made their debut in 2014 in Spain and pushed powerhouse teams like Argentina, Croatia and Greece to the limit before yielding.

The ongoing campaign in China is only the second time, and only five from the 2014 batch is back for an encore, leading a crew of greenhorns, including Guiao himself.

"We don't get to the World Cup too often. We got here the first time and we'll get there in the next because it's going to be in Manila. But the expectations are different when you get to the World Cup or maybe the Olympics; the competition is just different, totally different from the Asian level," he said.

Personally, Guiao said he's taking the whole World Cup experience in, including the pressure and the tough losses.

"The pressure on me is really to be able to give our countrymen something to cheer for. Alam naman ng Pilipino ang basketball nila, alam nila na ang Italy, ang Serbia, medyo talagang mas malakas sa atin, dehado tayo. But we want to give them a reason to cheer, just something that they can hang on to (in the Italy and Serbia games). But of course that (failure to do that so far) is the disappointment that I feel."

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At the same time, he said he's happy that his charges were able to share the court with NBA players from the other teams.

"To see these guys play against the guys who are the best in the world, on a personal level, that's an achievement also. But of course, medyo na-oovershadow ng desire mo na mapasaya ang Pilipino basketball fans, so we'll try to do that in the coming games," said Guiao.

Gilas wraps up its Group D assignment on Wednesday against fellow winless Angola at the Foshan GBA International Sports and Cultural Arena.

After that, it's off to Beijing for two more games in the classification phase. (OL)