The Gilas-Pilipinas enjoyed the massive support of the Filipino people in Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship campaign last year, But with the FIBA- World Cup being in faraway Spain,the National team is counting on 'homecourt advantage'.
Head Coach Chot Reyes and his wards have our Overseas Contract Workers ( OCW) and migrants there to thank for that.
After the results of the tournament draw Tuesday early morning (Philippine time) in Barcelona, coach Reyes said he is looking forward to playing in the southern Spanish city of Seville, where he said a big Filipino community is based.
“We like the fact that we will play in Seville because we know that we have quite a big Filipino community in Seville,” said Reyes in an interview with FIBA, the video of which was posted on YouTube.
“We expect a lot of our countrymen to come out apart from the people from the Philippines that will fly over to Spain,” Reyes added.
The national team got full support from Filipino basketball fans, whom Reyes referred to as the team’s 'sixth man,' when it finished runner-up to Iran in the world basketball qualifier last year in Manila.
David Perez Camarena, a Spanish national based in Malaga who writes about world basketball through a blog named piratasdelbasket.es, also attested to Spin.ph (a popular sports website in the Philippines) via Twitter the high number of Filipinos based in Seville.
“You'll be like home. There's an important Pinoy community in Seville,” wrote Camarena.
Gilas Pilipinas will open its campaign in the Fiba-World Cup against former powerhouse Croatia on August 30 before facing the 2006 FIBA World championship runner-up Greece on August 31. The PBA-backed squad then takes on 2004 Olympic champion Argentina on September 1 before taking a day-off on September 2.
The Nationals return to action on September 3 against 17th-ranked Puerto Rico, then wrap up the preliminaries on September 4 against lower-seeded Senegal,seeded 41.
Reyes said the team is still targeting a place in the next round by winning at least two games, but clarified the odds remain stacked against Gilas.
“We would love to get into the second round. To do that, we have to win two games for a chance to progress. Being in the Final 16, it’s going to be a huge win not only for the team but the whole nation. If we go to the Top 16, it’s going to be fantastic,” said Reyes.
“It is a tough group ... We are going to relish it and we are going to prepare very, very hard. For a team like the Philippines, there is really no easy group. Every game is going to be hard,” added the Gilas coach.
But chances would be higher if the team would have naturalized player in Nets' Andray Blatche and Nuggets' JaVale McGee.
The team have until June 30 to finalized their line-up.
--- Jay-R U. Bayon-on
Gilas will count on 'homecourt edge' in faraway Seville
Reviewed by Phil Newsome