ANILA, PHILIPPINES — On the eve of one of the most crucial stretches
ever for Philippine basketball – two home matches in the Asian
Qualifiers for the 2019 Fiba World Cup against Kazakhstan (November
30) and Iran (December 3), Gilas Pilipinas head coach Yeng Guiao
talked about two key points for the upcoming games – patriotism and
the collective psychological approach.
“From my gut feel, I feel we are ready,” bared Guiao. “The guys are
excited and ready to face Kazakhstan. Of course, time is always short.
We always want a little bit more of preparation time but we have to
work with what we have. But the players have shown their full
commitment. And at this point, this is where their patriotism will
come to play.”
“You see, this home stand is important,” clarified the coach. “Good
results will tell if we advance to the next round. We already pointed
out that we do not have the luxury of time so this boils down to how
bad we want this for our country? This is not just for a win but for a
chance to go to the World Cup and possibly the Olympics down the road.
Basketball is a unifying force for our country and this will mean so
much to our countrymen so in essence, we too are playing for them.”
With Kazakhstan on the plate and Iran on deck, Guiao couldn’t help but
note the physicality of the two teams. More so anyone else they will
play owing to the probation the country finds itself in after the
unfortunate brawl with Australia a few months ago.
“The players are well informed of the situation,” said Guiao of the
constant testing the nationals find themselves in. “Boss (Samahang
Basketbol ng Pilipinas) President Al Panlilio has briefed and talked
to the boys. We know that we are being tested and pushed to the brink.
At this point, it is also about our psychological approach. We have to
understand the goal and purpose which is to make it to the World Cup.
If there are any distractions, we have to set them aside. We have to
be under control.”
But Guiao couldn’t just resist in getting in a lick. “Ang mga players
naman okay lang. Ang mga coach lang naman ang mga umiinit ng ulo.”