Luis Scola says key for underdog Gilas in Fiba World Cup
MANILA, Philippines—Former Argentina basketball star Luis Scola encourages Gilas Pilipinas to believe in his Fiba World Cup 2023 campaign in August in Manila.
When asked what advice can he give to the Philippine team, Scola said preparation is key when Gilas plays his third straight World Cup stint and hosts the prestigious basketball tournament.
“You gotta be prepared, really really really prepared. It’s a tough competition, everything happens in a month. So you gotta be in really good shape. And sometimes, people underestimate that, you know, a lot of players, they get in shape while playing, but when you have a league that is 10 months, that’s okay,” Scola, the World Cup ambassador, said on Saturday’s draw at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“When you’re in the World Cup, you gotta be in shape from Day 1, and that’s not always that easy. Sometimes players struggle, so that would be my biggest advice for a player. Just pay extra attention to the preparation in getting to the first game, being in maximum condition. Because really, you don’t have tomorrow. You don’t have a bad game, your team loses, and that’s the end of it,” he added.
Scola and Argentina faced the Philippines in the 2014 World Cup in Spain.
Gilas is slated in Group A against Italy, Dominican Republic, and Angola. The host needs to become a top two team in their group to advance to the next round.
Argentina’s all-time leading scorer said the Filipinos have to believe in themselves when they go up against the world’s best teams.
“You just got to go for it,” the former NBA veteran said. “You know, teams that don’t have such a big history, like other powerhouses, just gotta believe in it. If you don’t believe in it, you’re not gonna do it. You need to really think you can do it. You can beat those games, you can pass around, you can win the qualifying game, whatever that is. Just really need to believe it.”
The 42-year-old Scola believes Team USA remains the biggest candidate to win it all but defending champion Spain, Serbia, Lithuania, Australia, and Canada have the potential to win it too.
“There’s a bunch of teams who are very good that can compete at the highest level always. Then in these particular championships, we’re gonna see how teams come in if anybody has an injury or somebody doesn’t play, so, still, we have yet to see. But those are the usual candidates to always win,” he said.
Scola enjoyed his short stay in Manila during the draw and can’t wait to come back in the final phase of the World Cup which will take place at Mall of Asia Arena.
“It was fun. People have been really really loveable here in the Philippines, everybody is fanatic about basketball as you can see. You know, for us, basketball players, to have a chance to come in such a far-away place for us, and still be recognized and still see the people love the same game that you love is very important,” Scola said.
“Everywhere you go, there’s basketball, there’s FIBA, there’s NBA, there’s national team, and that’s pretty much the best thing we can have, making the game global, making it grow, and making it be played by every day.”
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