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Chot remains defiant: Olympic dream still alive

In the end, it is our defiance that redeems us, someone once said.

Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes has refused to wave the white flag and is still hoping against hope, no matter how miniscule the chances are for the Nationals to book a spot to the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Jordan Clarkson PHOTO BY RIO DELUVIO

The Filipinos' bid to become the best-placed Asian team in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 took huge blows on Sunday, August 27 with Gilas Pilipinas absorbing a deflating 80-70 loss to Angola at the Smart Araneta Coliseum and Japan basking in euphoria after pulling off a massive 98-88 victory over Finland over at the Okinawa Arena.

Reyes, however, believes the Philippines still has a chance, but the Nationals must take control of things that are within their grasp first before entertaining other scenarios.

“We just need to focus on the next game. The objective is to get to the Olympics, so no matter how flickering that hope is, that hope is still alive. So, we still have to keep our heads up and find a way to play our best in the next game,” said Reyes after the game that also pushed the Filipinos to the end of Group A standings.

Reyes and Gilas Pilipinas do have some glimmer of hope to cling to, but their fate is no longer in their hands. Ironically, they must pray first game tormentor Dominican Republic gets past Angola on Tuesday at the Big Dome; and only then can they revive thoughts of advancing to the second round.

That's easier said than done, however, as Gilas Pilipinas is facing world No. 10 Italy, which is also looking to make it to the second round of the tournament after a shocking loss to the Dominicans in the opener.

As for the Paris bid, Gilas Pilipinas also hopes that the Akatsuki Five drops its remaining Group Phase game against world No. 3 Australia and that no other Asian team picks up a first win.

“It is [still alive]. We hope Japan loses its last game and we win our last game then it's all tied. I don't know how they are going to break that tie, but in the end, it's going to be dependent, I think, on the other games,” said Reyes.

“It's not going to be in our hands. The only thing that's within our control right now is the next game. We can't worry about the other things going on,” he added.

Providing a dramatic sidelight in the Gilas Pilipinas-Italy game is the clash between Utah Jazz teammates Jordan Clarkson and Simone Fontecchio.

Expected to watch the game is former eight-division world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, who, by now, must have heard of the challenge thrown at him by Italian coach Gianmarco Pozzeco upon their arrival in Manila – made in jest, of course, as the Azzurri's shot-caller clarified later that he was a huge fan of Filipino ring icon.

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Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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