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2023 FIBA World Cup

Vucinic believes Gilas can qualify for Paris

Nenad Vucinic’s stay in the Philippines might have lasted for six months but it left a lasting impression on him.

And from what he has seen, the fans are passionate and the country is rich in talent.

Under his watch, the former Tall Blacks head coach was the one who brought the best out of the likes of Carl Tamayo, SJ Belangel, RJ Abarrientos, Rhenz Abando, Kevin Quiambao, and Francis Lopez during the games he handled them.

Of course, the overseas imports were a given.

“I’ll be honest, the Philippines has talent, got a great homecourt, and I think that the team will play extremely motivated to finish in front of Australia who will have their best players,” he told Radyo5’s Power & Player with PSC Chairman Noli Eala.

“It would be a huge surprise but if it’s a surprise, it can be done.”

For the Worlds next year, the country’s basketball stakeholders have come together, stopping starting in May to give way for a three-month long preparation for the national team.

It is crucial according to Vucinic as no other nation will have that luxury of a break.

“The fact is you cannot do it because, in November and February, the chance of getting PBA players is very slim. It’s going to be tough. You are playing tough teams. Those are going to be tough games and you can expect to lose there. But the main goal should be June next year and the three months preparation. That’s when the PBA will come to the party,” he said.

“Three months is more than enough time. No country in the world will have that much time. If you have good preparation, and good games, you can get the best.”

Not only will the World Championship be at stake during the Games next year but also slots in the Paris Olympics and the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

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Back in 2019, it was Iran who qualified outright to the Tokyo Games after being the best Asian team with a record of 2-3. Australia and New Zealand are not part of the Asian quota for the Olympics.

And gaining that Olympic berth that has eluded Philippine basketball for the past five decades is achievable as early as next year, according to Vucinic.

“It’s going to require unbelievable performances. Getting out ofthe section is not going to be easy but I think the Philippines can do that. When it comes to the knockout phase, you’re going to have a little bit of luck on the night of the games. So when you get to the top 16, you are going to play against an outstanding team. In a knockoff game, it can happen,” said Tab Baldwin’s protege.

“It’s realistic with Australia being separate. It’s something that needs to be done with all the resources and time. I believe it can be done.”

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