Ahead of their pivotal matchup against Kazakhstan, the Philippines face several hurdles in their quest of returning to the FIBA World Cup.
The Philippines, currently fourth in Group F with a 6-5 card, have a chance of qualifying either by moving up to third place if they win against Kazakhstan (only if Japan somehow drops their last assignment to Qatar), or by qualifying as the best fourth placed team from either groups.
After barely escaping the Qataris during their last meeting in Manila last September, Gilas Pilipinas was clearly on a mission as they outclassed their West Asian counterparts on their own home floor during the rematch to stay in contention. But not everything is on their hands right now.
First, it won’t be an easy task, as the resilient Kazakhs pulled off a close decision 92-88 decision over the Filipino squad during their last meeting in Manila late last year.
Even if Gilas Pilipinas does take care of business against the Steppen Wolves in their final World Cup Asian Qualifiers match, they will still need to the chips to fall in their favor.
Last night, Jordan (6-5) was able to upset China, 86-62, moving up to third place in Group E. China dropped to fourth with a 6-5 record, but they have an automatic berth as the World Cup host nation regardless, thus there will be an extra slot available for the said group, which is currently occupied by Lebanon.
If Jordan manages to win their last assignment against the favored New Zealand Tall Blacks (10-1), Gilas will effectively be booted out of contention due to having inferior points differential.
As it stands, the best scenario for the Philippines is if Jordan loses to New Zealand, or with South Korea defeating Lebanon tomorrow night. Either that, or if Japan somehow loses to Qatar, and that Australia defeats Iran.
The Philippines will try to deliver on their end when they face off against the dangerous Kazakhstan side at the Republican Velodrome Saryaka Arena in Astana on February 24.
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