Armed with more match experience than when it first checked in for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in China, Gilas Pilipinas takes the next part of its journey in the global showpiece with a bit more confidence and added motivation
The Filipinos had lost all their three games in the first round - twice by a mile and the third in a down-the-wire fashion - but coach Yeng Guiao sees the positives gained from the initial salvo as something they can carry over to the classification stage for 17th to 32nd slots.
"We're getting better and we're able, I guess, to get used to this kind of (world-level) competition. This is really different from PBA basketball, different from Asian basketball so I think it's the immersion; we just need to immerse. The longer we play in this situation, the better we get and that's something we didn't have coming to China," said Guiao.
There's a lot more at stake in this classification phase in Beijing than final ranking - it offers a ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics for the Asian team that gets the best finish in the World Cup, aside from Japan which is already seeded as the Games' host.
China, the Philippines, Iran, Korea, and Jordan are all in the classification stage waging a war among themselves for the right to play in Tokyo.
"That (Olympic slot) is very much a part of our motivation and we go to Beijing with that in mind now," said Guiao, whose team is in Group N with Tunisia, Angola, and Iran.
Under the WC format, the teams in the classification will carry over their win-loss records from the first round and play two more games. The records will be combined and the first-placed teams in each group will be classified 17th to 20th, the second placers 21st to 24th, third placers 25th to 28th and fourth placers 29th to 32nd.
Gilas faces an uphill battle here, too, as it carries a 0-3 card and -108 points difference against Tunisia (1-2), Angola (1-2) and Iran (0-3).
But unlike in the first round in Foshan where they ran into formidable sides Italy and Serbia, Guiao felt they don't give too away much quality versus next rivals Tunisia and Iran.
"Going to Beijing, we're looking forward to playing teams that might be around our level of play," said Guiao.
GIlas mixes it up with Tunisia Friday night at Wuksong Sport Arena in the Chinese capital before tackling a familiar face in Iran two nights later.
"We're also out to improve on our rankings so whichever way we can, whichever possibility is accessible, then we'll go for it. Especially now that the guys are already fully comfortable playing at this level," he said. (OL)