Suspense mounts in FIBA World Cup draw
MANILA, Philippines — There are no clear indications as to how FIBA plans to conduct the modified draw for the coming World Cup and the suspense will be broken only before the actual allocation of the 32 teams in eight groups for the first round of eliminations in Shenzhen, China, tomorrow.
FIBA confirmed earlier that host China will join the top seven ranked countries in heading each of the eight groups but no other detail of the draw procedure has been announced. The top seven are No. 1 US, No. 2 Spain, No. 3 France, No. 4 Serbia, No. 5 Argentina, No. 6 Lithuania and No. 8 Greece. Two top 10 countries that failed to qualify for the World Cup are No. 7 Slovenia and No. 9 Croatia. The distribution of teams will consider world rankings and geographical principles. For instance, New Zealand and Australia will not be in the same group because of geographical circumstances.
The Philippines is one of eight qualifiers from the Asia/Oceania combined region. It’s ranked No. 31 in the world and only nine qualifiers are situated below in the standings – No. 32 South Korea, No. 33 Nigeria, No. 37 Senegal, No. 38 New Zealand, No. 39 Angola, No. 48 Japan, No. 49 Jordan, No. 51 Tunisia and No. 64 Ivory Coast.
At the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain, the Philippines was bracketed in the first round with Croatia, Argentina, Greece, Puerto Rico and Senegal. The Philippines beat Senegal, 81-79 in overtime but lost to Croatia, 81-78 in overtime Greece, 82-70, Argentina, 85-81 and Puerto Rico, 77-73. The last two finishers in the group failed to advance to the next round so the Philippines and Puerto Rico made only five appearances in the competition.
From 24 teams in Spain, the field has expanded to 32 for the World Cup in China on Aug. 31-Sept. 15. It will be the biggest assembly of teams in the World Cup’s 69-year history. The highest finish of an Asian team in the World Cup was third by the Philippines in the 1954 edition in Rio de Janeiro.
Teams that played in 2014 and didn’t qualify this year are Croatia, Egypt, Finland, Mexico, Slovenia and Ukraine. Teams that didn’t play in 2014 but qualified this year are Canada, China, Germany, Ivory Coast, Russia and Tunisia. Poland is making its first World Cup appearance since 1967 while Montenegro and the Czech Republic are celebrating their debut.
A crowd of 8,000 is expected to witness the draw at the Shenzhen Bay Arena tomorrow night. FIBA 2019 World Cup global ambassador and NBA legend Kobe Bryant will be on stage for the draw. Attending the event will be FIBA president Horacio Muratore of Argentina, FIBA secretary-general Andreas Zagklis of Greece, Chinese Basketball Association chairman and NBA legend Yao Ming, China team captain and NBA veteran Yi Jianlian, NBA veteran Stephon Marbury and NBA2KTV host and former Old Dominion star Rachel DeMita. A workshop on the World Cup will be held with FIBA’s member federations on Sunday.
SBP chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan, PBA chairman Ricky Vargas, SBP president Al Panlilio, members of the PBA Board of Governors and PBA commissioner Willie Marcial will attend the draw in China. Gilas head coach Yeng Guiao will closely monitor the draw from Manila. Guiao has an NLEX coaching assignment in the PBA on Sunday.
“I don’t have any preference as to which teams we’ll be bracketed with in the first round,” said Guiao. “Walang mahina sa World Cup. We’ll be playing with the best of the best. All I know is winning one game is doable and winning two will depend on the luck of the draw.”
The top two finishers of each group in the first round will advance and the last two will be relegated to a classification round. The eight groups will be assigned different venues in Beijing, Shanghai, Dongguan, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Wuhan, Foshan and Shenzhen. Of the 32 qualifiers, five are from Africa, 12 from Europe, seven from the Americas and eight from Asia/Oceania. A total of 92 games will be played in 16 days during the World Cup.