‘Long preparation critical for Gilas Pilipinas,’ says Yeng Guiao

Veteran coach Yeng Guiao believes that Gilas Pilipinas’ lengthy preparation period before competing in the 2023 FIBA World Cup is crucial as the national team strives for an automatic berth in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Guiao remarked that the Europe training camp and the next pocket tournament in China are huge strides for the national team’s preparation compared to the 2019 Gilas side he handled in the competition known formerly as the world championships.

“What’s really important is the preparation time, because talent, I think (Gilas coach) Chot (Reyes) has an abundance of that. In fact, what he’s trying to deal right now are injuries, which we know happens,” Guiao said in Tagalog during in an interview with SEAG Network.

“But at least, the good thing now is that the PBA has set aside some time for Gilas to train by removing one conference (from its calendar) so our team can better prepare for the World Cup. It’s (longer preparation time) a luxury which we didn’t have before,” he added.

With less than a month until Gilas’ eagerly anticipated World Cup debut against Dominican Republic, the seven-time PBA champion coach is confident that Reyes and his assistants, led by Tim Cone and Jong Uichico, are doing their job in scouting their world-class opponents in the hope of pulling off upsets right on Gilas’ home floor.

“Now we have learned from the past, like preparing for the logistics, venues, people, I think all these are good and we know we still have a long way to go but coach Chot and the team were able to also train in Europe, and then this pocket tournament also in China. Yet, it’s a balancing act for Chot because you want to be in top condition but at the same time, you don’t want the players to also get injured,” explained the Rain or Shine mentor.

“However, you also can’t hold back in practice because you want the players to be in tip-top shape because we know the opponents are all tough.”

In the first round, Gilas is grouped with Dominican Republic (ranked 23rd in the world), Angola (41st), and world no. 10 Italy.

The national team will travel to China on August 1 to compete in a pocket tournament which will feature Iran, Lebanon, and Senegal.

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