The Philippine national team finding itself in the company of heavyweights, say Serbia, Lithuania, Greece, Russia. Italy or Argentina?
Yes my dear, it’s sure as night follows day.
These powerhouses, along with the Philippines, Australia, Canada, Montenegro, South Korea, Nigeria, Senegal and Angola will be distributed into Groups B, D, F, and H when the world’s highest governing body in basketball holds a draw tonight in Shenzhen, China for the 2019 World Cup.
The draw, set to begin at 6:435 p.m. (Manila time), will be graced by NBA great Kobe Bryant.
Representing the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is its president, Al Panlilio, who will be joined in the Chinese city by PBA commissioner Willie Marcial and members of the PBA board of governors.
An eager spectator during the draw will be National team coach Yeng Guiao, who didn’t make the trip due to his commitments with NLEX in the ongoing Philippine Cup.
To obtain a good draw will be very important for the Filipinos since the best-placed Asian team will earn a place in the Olympic Games next year in Tokyo.
According to Guiao, the team will buckle down to work in its buildup for the World Cup after the draw.
“After the (draw), I think we can already set up some meetings to put up a time schedule, timeline for the preparation of the national team for the World Cup,” Guiao said.
Gilas has been placed in Pot 6 of the draw based on FIBA’s latest world rankings. The Philippines is ranked 31st after the securing qualification in the World Cup last month.
The possibility of being grouped alongside NBA stars from the United States is unlikely based on the draw procedures.
The Americans, who won the last two editions of FIBA’s main showpiece in 2010 and 2014, are already placed in Group E set in Shanghai.
China is already seeded into Group A in the Chinese capital of Beijing while 2006 champion Spain, France, Puerto Rico, Turkey, Dominican Republic, Germany, Iran, Czech Republic and Poland.
Japan, Jordan, Tunisia and Ivory Coast will be the last teams to be distributed.
Under FIBA rules, teams under the same zone are not allowed to be placed in the same group, meaning the Philippines can’t be joined by South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
The possible cities Gilas will play in the World Cup are Wuhan (Group B), Foshan (Group D), Nanjing (Group F) and Dongguan (Group H).