FOSHAN, China – Yeng Guiao could not help but describe the FIBA World Cup as "basketball heaven" when Gilas Pilipinas caught a glimpse of what could come in the first round of competition.
Arriving in Foshan on Thursday, August 29, the Filipinos immediately buckled down to work at the swanky GBA International Sports and Cultural Center that left Guiao impressed.
"This is a nice venue. Really world-class. I was telling the other guys earlier, when you enter here, you feel like you're in basketball heaven," Guiao told Filipino reporters here.
"You just want to enjoy it, you just want to give your best, you just want to savor it – the whole thing. So we're very lucky, we've very blessed."
But the Philippine team is also all business just like its Group D foes Italy, Angola, and Serbia, which took turns practicing at the 14,700-seater venue.
"It's a realization that this is where the battle happens, where the competitions happens. You better be ready, but at the same time, as I said, you feel like you're in heaven. This is really basketball heaven," Guiao said.
"We will just play our best – the best way we know how to play basketball."
And key to playing well, according to Guiao, is having fun as the Nationals participated in a halfcourt shootout together with some of the team staff after practice.
"To me that's a good sign, they're relaxed and they're enjoying. But at the same time, we did a good workout and we did a good film viewing before we came here."
Before facing Italy on Saturday, August 31, to kick off its campaign, the Philippine crew will have 3 more practices, which Guiao sees will be crucial in their quest to gain full strength.
"We're getting better. I feel that our objective to build momentum and peak during the game itself, we're getting there," he said. – 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.