With a resounding win over Iraq to follow up its opening day conquest of defending champion China, Gilas Pilipinas virtually assured itself of a spot in the Quarterfinals of the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup.
Despite playing without naturalized player Andray Blatche and three-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo, the Philippine national basketball team racked up back-to-back victories against China and Iraq in convincing fashion.
The twin wins have given Gilas an automatic ticket to the Quarterfinals regardless of the result of its final game in the Group Phase against Qatar.
The big question now is who will Gilas face in the quarters? As per FIBA competition system, the 1st placer of Group B will face the winner between the 2nd placer of Group D and the 3rd placer of Group C.
In Group D, Australia emerged as number 1 as expected with Japan claiming 2nd place and the Taiwanese finishing 3rd.
Over in Group C, there’s a triple tie for first place with New Zealand, Lebanon and Korea all finishing with 2-1 records. By virtue of superior quotient however, New Zealand will top the group followed by Lebanon and Korea.
So, it’s already settled then. The Philippines will face the winner of the Japan vs Korea match. Knockout game is scheduled on Monday, August 14 at 11:30pm while the Quarterfinal match is on Thursday, August 17 at 2:00am, Manila time.
If we’re fortunate enough to eliminate the winner between the two and move on to the semifinals, a familiar opponent would be waiting for us there.
With Lebanon facing Chinese Taipei in the Qualification to Quarterfinals stage, it’s almost certain that the Lebanese will advance to take on Group A top-notcher Iran.
Again, if we advance to the semis, we’ll take on the survivor of the titanic Iran vs Lebanon clash.
In the other Quarterfinal matches, New Zealand is expected to breeze through the semis with only Jordan and Iraq standing in its path.
Australia, however, will find a much tougher nut to crack in defending champion China. Still, the Aussies are expected to dethrone the Chinese and face New Zealand in the Semifinals.
As for Gilas, if we manage to oust either Lebanon or Iran, then the winner between Australia and New Zealand will be waiting for us in the Finals.
Quarterfinal games are scheduled on August 16 and 17. The tournament takes a break on the 18th. The 2 semis matches will be held on August 19 with the Finals set to be played on August 20.
These are the possible playoff scenarios for our national team and hopefully with a lot of heart, determination and hardwork, these possibilities will eventually turn into reality. Let’s all hope and pray that we’ll all be cheering for our team come August 20! #LabanPilipinas #PUSO – Ronald Agbada