MANILA, Philippines – Coach Yeng Guiao will be hoping for miracles after Gilas Pilipinas got bunched in what he calls as the "group of near death" in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Ranked 31st in the world, the Philippines faces a tall order of reaching the second round as they share Group D with world No. 4 Serbia, No. 13 Italy and No. 39 Angola.
"I'm not going to say this is the group of death. But like I said, we're overwhelming underdogs. Maybe this is the group of near death," the national team mentor said in a mix of Filipino and English.
"Against Italy and Serbia, it will almost take a miracle to win those games." (READ: LOOK: NBA players Gilas may face in FIBA World Cup)
Fortunately, Guiao does not discount miracles from happening.
"The good thing about me is I believe in miracles. But you need to prepare hard for miracles to happen," he said.
Out of its first 3 opponents, the Philippines will be looking at Angola as the most probable team it could beat. (LOOK: Gilas Pilipinas schedule in FIBA World Cup 2019)
But Guiao warns nothing will come easy, even if the Philippines has a higher FIBA ranking than Angola.
"They're a strong team. Ayun lang masasabi natin na realistically na ma-upset siguro. Pero it's going to be a hard win. Makikipagbasagan tayo ng itlog doon para manalo. That's how hard it's going to be."
(They're a strong team. Angola is the team that we can say we can realistically upset. But it's going to be a hard win. We will fight tooth and nail to win. That's how hard it's going to be.)
The Philippines gets its campaign going on August 31 as the World Cup kicks off in 8 cities in China. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.