Daunting task for Philippines

February 22, 2019
Andray Blatche
ANDRAY BLATCHE: Now a marked man in Philippines’ rematch with Kazakhstan on Sunday.

Following its trouncing of Qatar on Friday morning, the Philippines kept its hope for automatic berth in the Fiba Basketball World Cup alive.

Their 84-46 spanking of the Qataris on Friday morning gave the Filipinos a new lease in life in their bid for automatic berth in the China showpiece on August next year.

However, the Filipinos’ hope no longer remains on their hands alone.

They need to match the record of second-running Japan team which they swept in the first round of the Asia qualifiers, and that is easier said than done.

For that to happen, the Filipinos must beat Kazakhstan in their crucial Group F encounter on Sunday

Incidentally, the Kazakhs were the same bunch that dealt the Filipinos a heart-breaking 88-92 setback in the early part of the qualifier last year at home.

With a 6-5 record and in fourth place in Group F, the Philippines is not yet assured of a spot in China joust.

Under the competition format, the top three teams in Groups E and F will automatically advance to the World Cup.

A seventh Asian team - the best fourth placer from the two groups - will get a chance to compete against the best sides in the world in the quadrennial showpiece.

The Philippines is in fourth place in Group F following its win over Qatar on Friday morning.

Beating the Kazakhs does not assure the Filipinos of anything. For that to have bearing, it must be coupled with Japan and Iran losing their respective games. A three-way tie will ensue if that exactly happens.

Assuming the Philippines wins over Kazakhstan and Japan loses to Qatar and coupled with Iran win over Australia, Japan will take second spot, while the Filipinos get third place in Group F, with Iran falling to fourth due to an inferior goal difference (11, -5, -6 in that order).

However,  the Philippines will end up at fourth place in Group F if it loses to Kazakhstan.

Even if it wins over Kazakhstan, the Philippines will still drop to fourth if Iran loses to Australia and Japan wins over Qatar.

In that case, Iran will tie for third with the Philippines but will win the tiebreak by virtue of its 2-0 record against the Filipinos in the qualifiers.

If it finishes in fourth place in Group F, the Philippines’ fortunes will depend on the result of the Group E games.

Andray Blatche led Team Pilipinas to the crucial win over Qatar at the Al-Ghafara Sports Club Multi-Purpose Hall in Doha, scoring 17 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and two blocks in his first game back for the Philippines after serving out a suspension and being left out of the lineup for the previous window of the qualifiers.

The Philippines’ win also put pressure on Lebanon (6-4) and Jordan (5-5) to win their next assignments against China and New Zealand, respectively.

Lebanon currently shares third place with China while Jordan is in fifth place in Group E.

The top three teams in Groups E and F and the best fourth-placed team will move to the Fiba World Cup.