April 23, 2024

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Gilas Pilipinas Faces Uphill Battle For Olympic Qualification As Asian Rivals Strengthen Ahead Of World Cup

4 min read

Chot Reyes, head coach of Gilas Pilipinas, has emphasized his team’s need for a “superhuman effort” as they strive to secure a spot in the Paris Olympics, especially with other Asian countries bolstering their rosters for the upcoming FIBA World Cup.

Reyes has consistently emphasized that the Philippines’ primary goal in the global basketball showdown is to qualify for the Paris Olympics by finishing as the top-placed Asian team. However, other Asian squads are intensifying their efforts to clinch the coveted Olympic berth.

China, for instance, has naturalized Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kyle Anderson, adding a significant boost to their lineup. Similarly, Jordan has enlisted former NBA player Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who brings valuable experience from his time with the Brooklyn Nets, Toronto Raptors, and Portland Trail Blazers.

Reyes acknowledged the seriousness with which other Asian teams approach the qualification process, making Gilas Pilipinas’ task even more challenging. “They’re taking it seriously as well they should,” said Reyes. “That just makes our job that much more difficult.”

In Group B, China, grouped with Serbia, Puerto Rico, and South Sudan, anticipates a significant contribution from Anderson, a seasoned NBA veteran.

On the other hand, Hollis-Jefferson will lead Jordan’s charge in a highly competitive Group C, which includes powerhouses like Team USA, Greece, and New Zealand.

Despite the intensified competition, Gilas Pilipinas has a formidable asset in Utah Jazz star Jordan Clarkson, who has committed to joining the team for the World Cup. Clarkson’s arrival is expected during the pocket tournament in China on August 6, three weeks before the Philippines’ World Cup opener against the Dominican Republic on August 25.

Reyes acknowledged the significant role Clarkson plays in the team’s preparation. “Jordan Clarkson is such a big part of our team, as you can imagine. Him not yet being here obviously is a big factor in our preparation,” Reyes explained.

The head coach expressed optimism but also acknowledged the challenges that lie ahead. “It will take a superhuman effort on our part, and I hope we can get that done in 18 days,” Reyes remarked.

Currently, Gilas Pilipinas’ readiness stands at “less than 50 percent,” primarily due to the absence of Clarkson. However, the team is determined to maximize their preparation once he joins.

“We are preparing as best we can so that when Jordan comes in, we can ramp up and accelerate that preparation to be able to get to near 100 percent in the 18 days he is going to be with us,” Reyes emphasized.

In Group A of the World Cup, alongside the Dominican Republic, the Philippines will also face challenges from Italy and Angola. As the team navigates through the competitive landscape of international basketball, their determination remains resolute, fueled by the aspiration to make history and secure a coveted Olympic qualification.

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