FIBA: Gilas Pilipinas opens World Cup with crucial Italy showdown

Paul Lintag on Aug 31, 2019 06:37 AM
FIBA: Gilas Pilipinas opens World Cup against Italy
The long wait is over as the Philippine national team officially starts the World Championships with a crucial showdown against Italy. (Photo by Arvin Lim)

It’s finally go time for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

The long wait is over as the Philippine national team officially starts the World Championships with a crucial showdown against Italy.

In Group D where powerhouse Serbia is expected to advance unbeaten, the battle for second place and the final ticket to the next round is pretty wide open.

And many, including the brains behind Gilas, see the Philippines-Italy showdown to open the World Cup as the de facto do-or-die match for the second round.

The national team has put all its focus on this first must-win game. The result of this crucial showdown against Italy will dictate Gilas Pilipinas’ 2019 World Cup journey.

“Yun lang muna talaga. We have materials already on Serbia and Angola but we don’t want to distract the focus of the players from the Italy game,” head coach Yeng Guiao said.

“Wala pa kaming ini-input na schemes for Serbia, wala pa sa Angola. It might just be distractions at this point because we feel the most imporant game we will play will be the Italy game,” he added.

Expected to lead Gilas Pilipinas’ attack is Andray Blatche as he plays in his second consecutive World Cup for the national team.

Kiefer Ravena, returning from an 18-month suspension will also play a key role. The same goes for RR Pogoy, the only true shooter left for the national team after injuries to Marcio Lassiter and Matthew Wright.

For Italy, to spotlight naturally falls on NBA players Danilo Gallinari and Marco Belinelli. 

The highly-anticipated opening showdown between the Philippines and Italy will be played at the Foshan International Sports & Cultural Arena in China, with a tip off time of 7:30 p.m. in Manila.

 

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