June 22, 2024

Luck of the draw: What scenarios are best, worst for Gilas Pilipinas in FIBA World Cup?

Luck of the draw: What scenarios are best, worst for Gilas Pilipinas in FIBA World Cup?
Art by Royce Nicdao

The much-anticipated FIBA World Cup draw is scheduled this Saturday, April 29. By the end of it, Gilas Pilipinas and the rest of basketball-crazy Philippines will finally find out which countries the national team will play in the group phase of the world's biggest international basketball tournament.

As explained previously, the participating nations have already been placed in pots to ensure that a country will not outright face a rival in the rankings or in their region. With Gilas seeded in Group A, two potential scenarios are at play:

  1. Gilas being grouped with one team from Europe, one team from Africa, and one team from the Americas.
  2. Gilas being grouped with two teams from Europe, and one from either Africa or the Americas.

Fans of Gilas should just pore over Pots 3, 5, and 7, as these are the ones that will feed into Group A. With all the stipulations in place, from a field of 31 other teams, Gilas is looking at just eight countries that could join them in the group phase: Brazil and Dominican Republic from the Americas, Greece, Italy, Germany, and Finland from Europe, and the Ivory Coast and Angola from Africa.

Coach Chot Reyes' squad will battle three of these teams to start the FIBA World Cup, but which three-team combination poses the best odds for the Philippines?

Best-case scenario, arguably 

Based off the FIBA world rankings alone, the best-case scenario for Gilas would be to draw the Dominican Republic, which is ranked 23rd, Finland, which is 24th, and the Ivory Coast, which is 42nd. In this scenario, Gilas will not be facing any top-20 team in the preliminaries, and that means each of the three games Gilas will play could be winnable.

Worst-case scenario, arguably 

Again, based just off the FIBA world rankings, the worst-case scenario for Gilas would be to draw Greece, which is ranked 9th, Brazil, which is ranked 13th, and Angola, which is 41st. Beating both Brazil and Greece could be like mission impossible, while playing Angola would be a big challenge just the same as it has traditionally been an African powerhouse with great size and athleticism.

Even in this worst-case scenario, though, history suggests Gilas might theoretically beat Angola, as the team took the Angolans to overtime before bowing out, 84-81 in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Another team Gilas has history with is Greece, which beat Reyes and his wards, 82-70 in the 2014 FIBA World Cup. Giannis Antetokounmpo was part of that Greek team, but he was only 19 years old and still finding his way. The MVP version of the Greek Freak is sure to give Gilas nightmares come August if the two-time NBA MVP plays for his country.   

Of course, there are many potential combinations and these are just two of the possible outcomes. What would you rather see, Pinoy fans?