FIBA World Cup: Gilas Pilipinas not downplaying Angola

Gilas Pilipinas may have most of the attention focused on Italy as the two sides will meet first this Saturday at the 2019 FIBA World Cup opener, but head coach Yeng Guiao made it clear the team is not considering Angola a pushover.

“We cannot take Angola for granted. Even if we win against Italy, but we lose to Angola, useless ang lahat,” said the mentor. “Assume na natin na matalo tayo sa Serbia … We already have scouting materials against Angola. As soon as we are done with Italy, tsaka lang naman pag-aaralan or magfo-focus doon.”

The Philippines is ranked slightly higher at 31st in the FIBA rankings compared to their African counterparts at 39th, but Guiao said winning over Angola is just as important as trying to beat Italy.

“If we are successful against Italy, we have to beat Angola to make the next round. If you don’t, walang kwenta yung panalo mo sa Italy. We are not taking it for granted,” said Guiao.

Angola finished with a 9-3 record in the African Qualifiers for the World Cup, though they were beaten once by Congo, a squad Gilas beat during their Spain training camp.

The nationals are focused on Italy first, having scouted the European squad and anticipating both tendencies and how they will run their system against Gilas.

Guiao earlier stated that the Italy duel feels like “the most important game” for the national squad in the World Cup, as it may determine whether they move on past the 1st round or not.

Only the Top 2 teams per Group advance to the Round of 16 while the eliminated nations will move to the classification phase where there are still important repercussions, including keeping Olympic hopes alive.