'Ililibing nang buhay'?

September 03, 2019
Andray Blatche

THE President thinks Gilas Pilipinas is playing an Angolan team that’s too easy to handle, one which can be defeated twice on a weekday and thrice on a Sunday.

“Angola, ililibing nang buhay,” President Duterte told a gathering  at the Palace several weeks ago, perhaps informed by aides that the African nation is regarded a sissy in basketball.

In the same occasion, the President said Gilas wouldn’t hold a candle against a tall Italian side that boasts of a pair of NBA players. He was damn right; the Filipinos got mauled, losing 62-108 on Saturday night.

Whether the Chief Executive will be on the mark again will be known when the Filipinos take on the Angolans at 3:30 this afternoon in Foshan, China in a battle between two teams fighting for nothing but pride in the Fiba World Cup.

The two nations are already out of the running for the second round, but it doesn’t mean that the elements of a good, entertaining duel will be absent since both sides want to end the Group D eliminations on a positive note before going to Beijing for the classification phase.

If the President is expecting an easy outing for the Filipinos, he’s wrong. It’s because Gilas is facing a team that has the means and personnel to topple a PH side which played its first two games as if they left their shooting touch at the airport.

They’re both coming off horrible defeats, with the Filipinos absorbing a 67-126 shellacking from Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic and Serbia and the Angolans getting a 61-92 whipping from Italy on Monday night at the GBA International Sports and Cultural Center.

Gilas head coach Yeng Guiao said his team is ready at everything the Angolans could throw at them, adding the game against the Africans will be a tight one.

“We’re just looking to play a good game and give ourselves a chance to stay in the game,” Guiao said during the pre-game presser yesterday. “We’re trying to get them relaxed and try to enjoy ourselves. I think that will help a lot if we try to be competitive.”      

Like Guiao, Angolan coach Will Voigt is expecting a close game but is wary of the Filipino fans who are definitely coming in droves, something which he said is “something new to the Angolans.”

“We played two European teams, so obviously the following for them hasn’t been that big. But I would expect a good crowd support for the Philippines, and that’s a little added energy for them,” said Voigt.

In a talk with Filipino sportswriters, Voigt said he’s familiar with some of the Filipino players, and believes his team can match up with Gilas.

“Obviously (Andre) Blatche is always the x-factor against the Philippines. When he has big games, it makes them a lot harder to beat. But I think it’ll be a close game,” he said.         

In an evening to forget, the Filipinos got a neat lesson on how to play the game of basketball as the Serbs, ranked No. 4 in the world and a strong title contender, dealt Gilas its worst beating in the World Cup.

The 59-point loss surpassed a pair of 47-point defeats in the 1978 when Manila hosted what was known then as the world championship.  

“Serbia simply proved too big and too good for us,” said Guiao of the Serbians, who posted a magnificent 75 percent shooting norm in the win the sent them to the second round as expected together with the Italians.