MANILA — Despite encountering another disheartening defeat on Sunday, Coach Chot Reyes stressed that Gilas Pilipinas remains fully committed to securing an automatic spot in the Olympics.

“We must direct our attention to the upcoming match. Our primary objective is to secure a place in the Olympics. Despite the faintness of that hope, it’s still very much alive,” stated Reyes after the team’s 80-70 loss against Angola on Sunday.

The situation for Gilas grew more complex as Japan achieved a significant 98-88 victory over Finland on the same evening.

Gilas is vying to become the highest-ranking Asian team in the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

“We must maintain our spirits and find a way to deliver our best performance in the next game,” Reyes remarked after their defeat pushed the Filipinos to the bottom of the Group A standings.

Even if they manage to defeat the 10th-ranked Italy on Wednesday, the Filipinos are dependent on the Dominican Republic triumphing over Angola on Tuesday. Only then can the possibility of advancing to the second round be rekindled.

Regarding their Olympic aspiration, Gilas also holds out hope for the Akatsuki Five to stumble in their remaining Group Phase game against the world’s third-ranked Australia, and for no other Asian team to secure an initial victory.

“The hope is still there. We’re anticipating Japan’s loss in their final game and our victory in ours, resulting in a tie. The tiebreaker is uncertain, but ultimately, it will likely hinge on the outcomes of other matches,” Reyes explained.

“We don’t have control over that. At present, our sole focus is on the next match. We can’t afford to be preoccupied with external factors,” he added. (ai/mnm)