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Still a mountain to climb for Gilas Pilipinas

COACH Yeng Guiao said Gilas Pilipinas still faces a tall order in the FIBA World Cup even Group D opponents Serbia and Italy are dealing with injuries to their key players.

Serbia is likely to miss the services of talented guard Milos Teodosic for the group matches in Foshan, China after sustaining a foot injury in an exhibition match against Lithuania last week.

GILAS faces a tall order in China

GILAS faces a tall order in China

NBA cager Danilo Gallinari, meanwhile, has missed Italy’s tune-ups after undergoing appendectomy earlier this month, though is expected to return by the time the Azzuris face Gilas in the World Cup opener on Aug. 31.

Italy also lost center Nicolo Melli for the World Cup due to a knee injury.

Though it has given him less problems ahead of the global cage competition, Guiao said nothing has changed as far Gilas’ chances are.

“In some ways that’s good for us, but those teams are so deep,” Guiao said.

“I don’t think the reason malakas ang Italy, for example, is only because of Gallinari kasi yung next in line naman kay Gallinari is kung di man NBA player yan, Euroleague player din yan e.”

(I don’t think the reason Italy is strong, for example, is not only because of Gallinari. The one who is next in line may not be an NBA player but probably a Euroleague player.)

“So maybe it helps just a little but, but the next guy after Gallinari is maybe not as good but very close to what he can do,” he added. “So di pa rin natin pwedeng sabihin na nag-iiba yung odds. I don’t think the odds will change.”

Gilas will need to secure a top two finish in Group D to reach the second round of the World Cup.

While Guiao has ruled out any chances of beating Serbia, a team that has a strong chance of beating two-time winner United States, he believes that there’s a good opportunity for the Nationals to gain a result over the Italians.

Meanwhile, Serbia defeated Italy, 96-64, over the weekend in a preview of their Group D match in the Acropolis Tournament in Athens, Greece.

Serbia and Italy are using the tournament also participated by host Greece and Turkey to prepare for the World Cup.

Italy lost to Greece, 83-63, and Serbia downed Turkey, 87-72, in the earlier games of the pocket tournament. (JONAS TERRADO)