The Philippine Men’s National Basketball Team finished last place at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in China.
Gilas Pilipinas ended their campaign winless after dropping all three Group Phase games and two Classification Round matches, with four of those losses coming via blowout defeats against Italy, Serbia, Tunisia, and Iran. Their closest game came when they were able to force overtime against Angola, but fizzled in the extra period and suffered their most heartbreaking loss.
Any hopes of punching a ticket to the 2020 Summer Olympic Games’ basketball tournament through this event are also gone after the Philippines ended up far from the top 24 squads in the World Cup.
The World Cup offers seven of the eight automatic seeds to next year’s Men’s basketball event in Tokyo, each awarded to the best place team from their respective continental zones: two for the Americas, two for Europe, and one each for Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Japan, as the hosts of the 2020 Games in Tokyo, also gets an automatic berth regardless of where they finish.
Meanwhile, the next 16 teams would be eligible to compete in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, where there will be four more spots up for grabs to the quadrennial summer event.
Five years ago, the Filipinos were considered an underdog team in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup that was held in Spain, shocking the world as they were able to hang with some of the best teams.
As relative rookies, Gilas Pilipinas became the darling of the tournament after losing four games to the highly touted Croatia, Greece, Argentina, and Puerto Rico teams by an average margin of just 5.75 points per game, before winning in overtime over African nation squad Senegal.
In contrast, this year’s team gave up an average margin of nearly 30 points per game to their opponents, as they were swept 0-5. Their disappointing performance drops them to the very bottom of the tournament rankings at 32 due to having the worst points difference at -147. The next closest to the bottom are fellow Asian team Japan at 31st place (-130).
Set to co-host the 2023 edition of the Basketball World Cup with Japan and Indonesia, the Philippines will have plenty of time to reflect and perhaps do an overhaul as they look to try and win back the respect of skeptics, both at home and around the globe.
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