By NICK GIONGCO
Enjoying the sights and sounds of Spain and the lure of stocking up on trendy items from Zara aren’t in the agenda of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) as Gilas Pilipinas revs up its mission for the 2014 FIBA World Cup.
SBP executive director Sonny Barrios said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association forum yesterday that basketball big boss Manny V. Pangilinan has reminded those going to be named to the 12-man squad to play to win.
“MVP told them he doesn’t want them to be tourists in Spain,” said Barrios, brushing off observations that the Philippine team would just be content with its presence there.
Barrios said the mission is to score two victories regardless of the outcome of the grouping and “advance into the second round.”
The official draw will be held next month and Gilas head coach Chot Reyes will be sent there to “take the opportunity to look at the facilities,” according to Barrios.
Five Spanish cities will hold games and these are Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Bilbao, Granada and Gran Canaria and it would only be in February that Gilas Pilipinas and all the other 23 teams will know which teams they’ll be playing against and where they’ll strut their stuff. The four wild card entries will also be determined during the draw.
Gilas Pilipinas placed second behind Iran in the Asia qualifying, while the third qualifier is South Korea. Australia and New Zealand will make up Oceania, while Europe will have France, Lithuania, Croatia, Slovenia, Ukraine and Serbia, while the Americas will be represented by Mexico, Puerto Rico, Argentina and Dominican Republic.
Africa will field Angola, Egypt and Senegal, while Spain will be seeded since it is the host and defending champion US also earned an automatic berth because of its stature.
Barrios said that the final roster of members will be known in the final weeks before the tournament although he admitted that members of the second-placed team during last year’s FIBA Asia “have one foot in the door.”
To build up for Spain, the SBP is going full-blast in honing the skills of those going to make the grade.
Training stints in Europe and New Zealand and tournaments in Kuwait and China are on the drawing board for SBP as it eyes to make the Philippines’ return to the quadrennial cagefest an unforgettable one.
The last time the Philippines played in the World Cup – known before as the World Championship – was in 1978 when it was the host but its last stint as a qualifier was in 1974 in Puerto Rico.