Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) Chairman Emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan has ordered Gilas Pilipinas to reach the Final 16 at the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Cup on August 31 to September 15 in China.
Pangilinan, the former SBP president, is optimistic of the Philippines’ chances despite being bracketed in Group D with powerhouse teams Serbia, Italy and Angola.
Gilas is due to fly to China in 10 days.
“Well take it one [game] at a time. I think if we could make it to the Final 16 that will be a huge achievement for Gilas Pilipinas,” Pangilinan told reporters on Wednesday during the Gilas Pilipinas’ send off at the Meralco multi-purpose Hall.
“Sana, sana (I hope so). Always optimistic and passionate. I think you need two — two wins, ‘yung Serbia medyo mabigat (Serbia is a heavyweight). Italy and Angola, I don’t have a clue how strong they are,” he added.
Gilas head coach Yeng Guiao said, they are ready to go for broke against the 2016 Olympic silver medalist Serbia, Italy and Angola.
“We will go to China knowing that we will give our best and we have prepared the best way we know and we will represent the Philippines the best way we can,” said Guiao.
The spirited coach expressed concern over Matthew Wright who suffered a minor sprain in his ankle.
“He’ll be out four to five days starting today. I’m worried if he’ll be in shape prior to the games.”
Gilas will be flying to Foshan, China on August 29 after their two tune-up games with Australian team Adelaide 36ers on Friday and Sunday at the Meralco gym.
The 36ers and their coach Joey Wright were also present during the send off.
Pangilinan also thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for supporting Gilas Pilipinas.
“The fact that he is going to Foshan from Beijing shows his support for the team and of course for the Philippines. So we are grateful for that,” said Pangilinan.
Gilas members June Mar Fajardo, Kiefer Ravena, Gabe Norwood, naturalized player Andray Blatche, Matthew Wright, Beau Belga and Japeth Aguilar, were also present during the send off.