WITH a bruised pride and a battered image, Gilas Pilipinas left Foshan, China for Beijing yesterday morning for the classification phase of the Fiba World Cup.
Like the rest of Asian and African nations which saw action in the elimination round of the 32-nation basketball showpiece, the Filipinos didn’t make it to the next stage after losing three straight games, including a close 81-84 defeat to Angola on Wednesday.
Gilas will play Iran and Tunisia in Group N for the classification for 17th and 32nd places in the tournament.
According to head coach Yeng Guiao, his team will play with gaining the outright Olympic berth that goes to the best Asian team foremost in its mind.
“We want to improve our ranking so whichever way we can, whichever possibility is achievable, then we’ll go for it,” Guiao told Filipino sportswriters before leaving for Beijing.
“Especially now that the guys are already feeling comfortable about playing in this stage,” he added.
If Gilas flops again in the classification, it still has a chance to make it to the Tokyo Olympics next year. But going to Tokyo, will entail a huge, very huge challenge.
They need to place in the top 24 of this tournament in order to merit a spot in an Olympic Qualifiying tournament where they will meet European nations which didn’t do well in this meet.
“Going to Beijing, we’re looking forward to playing teams that might be around our level of play. I know Iran and Tunisia are going to be there,” Guiao said.
“We’re used to playing them. We know how to play in Asia. So we’re looking at better games in Beijing,” he added.