‘MAHIRAP’ | Guiao sees tall order for PHL team in new group with China, Kazakhstan

IT’S going to be a tall order for the Philippine men’s basketball team competing in the coming Asian Games less than two weeks for now as the country will be grouped with none other than China and Kazakhstan.

“I think it’s going to be harder now kasi nag-iba ng groupings. Kasi dati groupings natin Iran, UAE and Syria. Ngayon, tatlo na lang tayo sa groupings, China at Kazakhstan pa. There are no pushover teams in our group. Beating China is a tall order and beating Kazakhstan is a tall order as well,” newly-installed coach Yeng Guiao of the Rain or Shine-backed Philippine team told FOX Sports Philippines.

China placed fifth in the last staging of the Asian Games in South Korea while Kazakhstan ended up a notch higher at fourth.

Although the Philippines nipped Kazakhstan, 67-65, last time around in the 2014 meet, the Filipinos were beaten by the Chinese, 78-71, despite the presence of our naturalized player – Marcus Douthit.

A lot of things have changed four years later as the Philippines will not only send a team without a naturalized player but will also be fielding in a hastily-prepared squad, making the odds a lot tougher for our national team’s campaign.

“Ang expectations sa amin, be better than seventh place. Mahirap kasi alam naman natin hindi naman ito ang most talented players natin dahil nagkaproblema yung regular national team natin,” said Guiao. “But one thing we can promise is we’ll be there fighting. They will be proud of the effort that we’ll put together.”

On Monday night, the Philippine squad started its nightly grind before heading to Jakarta and during the first day, majority of the players lined up in the 14-man pool were present.

Among those who were there at practice were the players from Rain or Shine – Gabe Norwood, James Yap, Beau Belga, Raymond Almazan, Maverick Ahanmisi and Chris Tiu. Also joining the session were Asi Taulava of NLEX, Paul Lee of Magnolia, Stanley Pringle of GlobalPort, Don Trollano of TNT and Gilas Cadet stalwart Kobe Paras.

Poy Erram of Blackwater was also in attendance but was on street clothes as he is still recovering form a back injury.

Christian Standhardinger was not able to join the practice as his team, San Miguel, is still currently battling Ginebra in the ongoing PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals series.
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