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Gilas braces for tough OQT campaign

May 19 ------ Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tim Cone sees winning and overall improvement as barometers of success when the country plunges into action in the upcoming campaign in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Latvia in July. 


The veteran mentor is tempering expectations on the Nationals' campaign although picking up some victories along the way and seeing improvement in the team’s chemistry would be a good measure of success for Gilas. “We’re gonna have major success first of all by winning. That’s our goal. We are going there to win but again, that’s not gonna be our focus,” said Cone in a one-on-one interview with Carlo Pamintuan published on the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas Facebook page. “Our focus is going to be what we do everyday to delve deeper into how we want to play, delve deeper into our chemistry, let our young guys grow, Kai (Sotto), Carl (Tamayo), Kevin (Quiambao and Mason Amos because he’s gonna be there as well,” he added 


While the Nationals would want to win and determine how they would fare against the top European teams, Cone said Gilas is also thinking long term as it wants to ensure the growth of the team’s young gun. To do so, however, Cone said they need to maximize the competition in the OQT, at least win and advance to the crossover where they could face Montenegro, Brazil and Cameroon. “Are those guys growing, are those guys getting better? For us to think that we have any success in this thing is for us to get into the crossover,” said Cone who also stressed that in order to achieve that, they have to beat either Latvia or Georgia. 


Gilas needs to finish in the Top 2 of its group to reach the crossover semis. “We got to go out and beat either Latvia or Georgia to really feel like we have success. We’ll see how we go from there, if we can beat one of those two teams that means we can compete in the crossover so you'll never know from there,” noted Cone. 


Cone believes that Gilas has a legitimate chance against Latvia and Georgia although he noted that it would be tough but never impossible. “It’s tough for sure, it’s gonna be tough and it’s always been tough to us but I just don't think that we really brought in a team like this to the OQT before and I think this team may be ready,” he said. 




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