Hindi umano mamaliitin ng Gilas Pilipinas ang mga bansang kasama nito sa group phase ng 2021 Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers.

Una nang napabilang ang Pilipinas sa Group A ng qualifiers, kasama ang Korea, maging ang mga kabitbahay nitong Thailand at Indonesia.

Ayon kay Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio, ang Korea, na mahigpit na karibal ng Gilas at makailang beses nang dumurog sa puso ng mga Pinoy basketball fans, ang siyang koponan na dapat nilang payukuin sa grupo.

Umaasa din si Panlilio na maduduplika ng Pilipinas ang nangyari noong 2013 Fiba Asia Championship kung saan binigo ng Gilas ang Korea sa Mall of Asia Arena para makausad sa 2014 Fiba World Cup.

“It’s always a challenge taking on Korea and I know this as I was also part of the team that battled them in the Asian Games. We know what they bring to the table but we can’t focus too much on the history between the two teams. One thing I’m very excited about is playing against them on our homecourt because we all know how special the last one turned out to be,” wika ni Panlilio.

Binigyang-diin naman ng basketball official na bagama’t makailang pagkakataon nang tinalo ng Pilipinas ang Thailand at Indonesia sa mga regional tournaments, hindi raw dapat maliitin ang mga ito.

“Thailand and Indonesia are definitely improving in the past few years. The Thais have even hosted Fiba events in the past because they know it’s also important to learn as much as they can from the stronger teams in the region,” ani Panlilio.

Kumpiyansa naman si Panlilio na magagawa ng Pilipinas na makaokupa ng puwesto sa Fiba Asia Cup.