The Gilas Pilipinas men’s national basketball team has been drawn to Group A of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, and will square off against longtime rivals South Korea as well as New Zealand and India.
Even though the Philippines already has an automatic spot in the World Cup by virtue of it being one of the hosts, they will still compete in the first and second round of the qualifiers.
Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin shared that they would be preparing for the different styles of basketball that they are about to face, including a South Korean squad that will no doubt be eying vengeance after getting beaten twice by the Filipinos in the recent FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in Clark, Pampanga.
“I think Korea will be waiting for us so it should be a great experience. Obviously, we have a lot of preparation to do to be ready for this,” said Baldwin in a virtual press conference.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) Special Assistant to the President, Ryan Gregorio, echoed Baldwin’s sentiments, saying, “For as long as we are prepared, as long as we do our extensive scouting report, we have the pieces to go up against that tough South Korean team, then I think we should be good. At this point, it’s about coming up with the right battle plan.
New Zealand and India will pose more challenges given how unfamiliar the Gilas is with their national teams. The Gilas battled the Tall Blacks six years ago in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila, and lost, 80-89.
“With New Zealand, there’s not so much familiarity for us. We have not faced New Zealand that much but there will be a lot of physicality and maturity,” said Baldwin.
Meanwhile, India will feature two G League players in AJ Singh and big man Princepal Singh.
“India also has a lot of talent and size but doesn’t have that much international experience. So each team presents something different and they come from different parts of the world,” Baldwin added.
“It will come down to scouting and understand our opponents. Each team will be very different,” Baldwin continued. “I believe that our scouting needs to be on point and be ready to dance with whatever roster they will bring in and build the best roster that we have.” (JNP)