FOSHAN - After crushing losses to European heavyweights, Gilas Pilipinas will be out for saving grace when it faces Angola to close out stint in the FIBA World Cup group play at the Foshan GBA International Sports and Cultural Arena here Wednesday.
Already out of contention for the second round, another idea for the Nationals - and for the Angolans -- is to build momentum for the classification battle among 16 teams which failed to progress into the Last 16.
And so there's really no reason for Gilas to be down or quit even after a 62-108 beating by the Italians and a 67-126 blasting by the Serbians.
"We're disappointed but I don't want those games to get in the way of us still trying to play well in the next three games that we have here," said Gilas coach Yeng Guiao.
But Guiao is realistic they're not facing an easy battle even against the Angolans, a leading team from the African zone.
"I think it's going to be really tight. Angola is a strong team. Italy and Serbia are just in a class by themselves and not at our level but I guess Angola and the Philippines will be a good matchup," said Guiao.
"Angola also has the size, the strength and they have veterans, some of them have played in the Euro League and Division 1 basketball actually. So it's going to be a tough matchup for us, especially coming from these two tough losses. We have to lift up the spirits of the guys to be able to play well in the next games," he added.
They must lift up their spirits and hopefully find Andray Blatche doing better than he did in their first two games.
"He's our leader and we rely on him a lot. I'm hoping he'll able to bounce back with three more games to go," said Guiao.
"I'm sure Andray's disappointed himself and the best for him to make up and for us to make up as a team is to be able to play well and try to win the next games that we'll play," Guiao added.
But the Angolans are also aching for saving grace after a 59-105 rout by Serbia then a 61-92 shellacking by Italy.
And it could really be a battle just like the Gilas-Senegal match at the close of group play in Seville five years ago.
"In 2014, we beat Senegal in overtime for our only win. Now, we're playing another African team and we hope to match our record in the World Cup in Spain," said Guiao.
Leading the charge for Angola are 6-9 Yanick Moreira of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, 6-3 Carlos Morais who was once in the Toronto Raptors camp, 6-6 Leonel Paulo, 6-10 Joaquim Valdelicio, 5-10 Gerson Domingos, 6-6 Jose Antonio, 6-6 naturalized player Reggie Moore of Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma and 6-4 Olimpio Cipriano who played for the Detroit Pistons in the 2007 NBA summer league. (SB)
(Image by FIBA.basketball)