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Guiao says Gilas an ‘overwhelming underdog’ with Serbia, Italy and Angola

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Miles Morales

Gilas Pilipinas fell into a highly competitive Fiba World Cup bracket, prompting coach Yeng Guiao to describe the national team as “the overwhelming underdogs.”

The Philippines was grouped into Group D with Angola, Italy and 2014 World Cup runner-up and 2016 Olympic silver medalist Serbia.

“Looking at Italy, Serbia and Angola, those are certainly tough teams. We’re the overwhelming underdogs against those three teams,” Guiao said in a televised interview on Saturday shortly after the World Championships draw in China.

Due to Gilas’ performace in the previous edition of the Fiba World Cup in Spain, Guiao said other nations won’t take the Philippines lightly this time around.

“If there is a team that maybe we can upset it’s Angola. Serbia is really a powerhouse, world-class team and Italy is the same,” the veteran mentor said.

Serbia is currently the world’s 4th best men basketball team. Italy is ranked 13th while Angola is ranked 39th, 8 places lower than the Philippines.

In 2014, Gilas Pilipinas beat Senegal and were able to stay close to world-class teams like Argentina and Puerto Rico, “but now we will be well scouted,” Guiao said.

Guiao also bared that he is set to meet next week with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) and PBA to discuss the schedule and preparation of the national team.

Guiao earlier said he is eyeing for a two to four month preparation before August 31 and hopes to bring in naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche early to make sure he’s in really good shape before they represent the country in the World Cup.

The SBP is also looking at having Cleveland Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson play as a local for the Philippines. Clarkson’s status has been a hot topic for Gilas since 2014.

Meanwhile, Guiao is also eyeing to invite Fil-Am Remy Martin, who is currently having a stellar sophomore season in the US NCAA Division I for the Arizona State University.

The 6’0 Martin is reportedly able to acquire a Philippine passport before the age of 16, a vital Fiba requirement for multi-racial players.