Veteran coach Yeng Guiao is convinced that the long preparation time of Gilas Pilipinas before plunging to the 2023 FIBA World Cup action is critical as the national team shoots for an outright ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Compared to the 2019 Gilas side he handled in the tournament known formerly as the world championships, Guiao noted that the Europe training camp and the upcoming pocket tournament in China are giant strides for the national team's preparation.
“What's really important is the preparation time, because talent, I think (Gilas coach) Chot (Reyes) has an abundance of that. In fact, what he's trying to deal right now are injuries, which we know happens. But at least, the good thing now is that the PBA has set aside some time for Gilas to train by removing one conference (from its calendar) so our team can better prepare for the World Cup,” Guiao said in Filipino in an interview with SEAG Network. “It's (longer preparation time) a luxury which we didn't have before.”
The seven-time PBA champion coach said with just a month to go before Gilas' keenly-awaited World Cup debut against Dominican Republic, he is confident that Reyes and his assistants led by Tim Cone and Jong Uichico are doing their job in scouting their world-class opponents in the hope of pulling off upsets right at Gilas' home floor.
“Now we have learned from the past, like preparing for the logistics, venues, people, I think all these are good and we know we still have a long way to go but coach Chot and the team were able to also train in Europe, and then this pocket tournament also in China. Yet, it's a balancing act for Chot because you want to be in top condition but at the same time, you don't want the players to also get injured,” he explained.
“However, you also can't hold back in practice because you want the players to be in tip-top shape because we know the opponents are all tough.”
Gilas is bracketed in the same group as Dominican Republic, ranked 23rd in the world, Angola (41st) and world no. 10 Italy in the opening round.
Reyes has said that their goal, no matter how tough the road may be, is to be the top Asian finisher in the World Cup in order to secure the automatic spot for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Gilas is scheduled to leave for China on Aug. 1 to play three games against Iran, Lebanon and Senegal in a pocket tournament.
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