‘We can beat An­gola’

Sun.Star Pampanga - - SHOW! -

GILAS Pilip­inas in the Fiba World group with Ser­bia, Italy and An­gola is as ter­ri­fy­ing as see­ing Manny Pac­quiao pit­ted against Ter­ence Craw­ford.

Ser­bia and Italy are in the Top 15. Al­though An­gola is one rung lower than Gilas in the Top 40, An­gola has brag­ging rights as the African cham­pion.

But lis­ten to Chot Reyes.

“We can beat An­gola,” said Chot, who coached Gilas in the 2014 Spain Fiba Cup. “I can sense vic­tory.”

A win over An­gola, cou­pled with an­other tri­umph over ei­ther Italy or Ser­bia, will push Gilas to a first ever stint in the next round of the Worlds.

The top two teams from each of the eight groups hav­ing four squads apiece will ad­vance to the next round in the 32-na­tion event won back-to-back by the US in the last two edi­tions.

OK, a bit more of his­tory.

The last time we played in the Fiba Worlds be­fore 2014 Spain was 41 years ago. And that’s only be­cause we hosted the 1978 Manila Cup, giv­ing us an au­to­matic slot.

China will also en­joy the same bonus for host­ing the Fiba Cup from Aug. 31 to Sept. 15, where sev­eral Chi­nese cities play host to the Olympics of bas­ket­ball.

Chot, in his usual un­selfish de­meanor, shared me his thoughts on the Fiba Worlds in­side Manila Golf Club’s locker room af­ter our round at the MVP Me­dia Cup on Fri­day.

“The key to our cam­paign in China is scout­ing our foes well,” he said. “I did the job myself be­fore the Spain event as I trav­elled to Europe to watch the games of all our pos­si­ble op­po­nents.”

He was gain­fully re­warded for it as Gilas nearly scored ma­jor up­sets, drop­ping close con­tests against Croa­tia (81-78), Ar­gentina (85-81), Puerto Rico (77-73) and Greece (82-70). We beat Tu­nisia in over­time, 81-79.

He heaped praise on MVP (Manny V. Pangili­nan), the main cog in Gilas’ re­turn to the Worlds in 2014 even amid crit­i­cisms that our stub­born stints in global bas­ket­ball are mere ex­er­cises in fu­til­ity.

“He’s been hands-on from Day One,” Chot said.

“It was MVP who re­de­ployed Blatche (An­dray) for the China mis­sion.”

But on an­other plane, will Pac­quiao de­feat Craw­ford?

That’s an­other story, fellers.

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