In the lead-up to the 2023 FIBA World Cup, Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes has been forthright in expressing the team’s objective — to emerge as the top Asian team. Such an achievement would secure a coveted spot in the upcoming Paris Olympics.

Gilas Pilipinas finds itself grouped with the Dominican Republic (ranked 23rd in the world), Angola (41st), and Italy (ranked 10th) in Group A during the opening round.

Meanwhile, China, a 16-time Asian champion, is placed in Group B alongside sixth-ranked Serbia, Puerto Rico (ranked 20th), and South Sudan (ranked 62nd).

Following the group stage, the top two teams from each group will advance to the second group phase, while the bottom two teams will enter the classification phase.

Gilas faces challenges, including injury concerns and the absence of key players like Kai Sotto and NBA star Jordan Clarkson from team practice. With just a month left, the team is striving to develop a cohesive unit that can secure crucial victories during the group stage.

Before the FIBA World Cup, the Philippine team is scheduled to participate in a pocket tournament in Guangdong, China, where they will compete against Iran, Lebanon, and Senegal.

Additionally, they recently completed a 16-day Europe training camp, playing tuneup matches against Estonia, Finland, Ukraine’s under-20 team, and two Lithuanian squads, ending with a 3-3 record in those matches.

Reyes also confirmed that Gilas will have a friendly match against Mexico, just one week before their FIBA World Cup debut against the Dominican Republic on August 25th at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

The stage is set for an intense battle as Gilas Pilipinas aims to seize the lone Olympic slot and potentially collide with powerhouse China in the process. (ai/mnm)