SBP eyeing favorable draw to reach world cup knockout stage–and maybe Olympics
The Philippines will be trying to hit two birds with one stone when it campaigns for the second straight time in the Fiba World Cup starting Aug. 31.
“We wish to get to a grouping where we [will] have a great chance to advance [to the second round],” Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio told the Inquirer in an overseas call from Shenzhen, China, where the draw for the 32-team spectacle will be held Saturday afternoon.
And then there’s another objective which the draw could also determine for the Philippines.
“Remember, the top Asian team [will] qualify for the Tokyo Olympics [next year],” Panlilio added. “I believe this is a far objective, too.”
For the second straight edition since being out of the global stage for more than four decades, the Philippines will be playing against the best in the world, and will this time shoot to win more than just one game and possibly make it to the next round.
In Spain in 2014, Gilas Pilipinas, which also had Andray Blatche as a naturalized player, squeezed out an 81-79 overtime victory over Senegal, a non-bearing game that was played late in its group schedule but one which reverberated back in the country since it was the Filipinos’ first group win in more than 40 years.
Croatia and Greece, which were both ranked in the top 10 in Spain, were the first two foes of the Philippines in Seville and survived a scare from Gilas Pilipinas.
When the Filipinos set out this time, they will be shooting to win at least two games, thus the powers-that-be in the national cage scene are hoping and praying that Gilas lands in a favorable group that would make those two wins realizable.
“We might need to win two games [to advance],” Panlilio said.
As of the end of February, the Philippines is ranked 31st in the world, with Australia the top-ranked Asian team that will be playing in China.
Of the eight Asian teams playing in the Worlds, Iran and China are the only other teams ranked higher than the Filipinos in the region.
Japan, Jordan, South Korea and New Zealand are the other Asian countries taking part and will be shooting to bag the second slot for the region in the 2020 Games in Tokyo where the Japanese earned automatic entry being the hosts.
Team USA, the top-ranked team in the world, is favored to rule the China event, which will be held in eight cities in the Mainland until Sept. 15.
And SBP and Gilas coach Yeng Guiao made it no secret that they would want to avoid being bracketed with the Americans in the first round.