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Gilas eyes best odds

Gilas Pilipinas head coach Yeng Guiao (FIBA images)
Gilas Pilipinas head coach Yeng Guiao (FIBA images)

By Jonas Terrado

Gilas Pilipinas could see itself facing the likes of Serbia, Greece, Russia, Argentina, Lithuania or Italy in the FIBA World Cup when basketball’s governing body holds a draw Saturday evening in Shenzhen, China.

The aforementioned countries along with the Philippines, Australia, Canada, Montenegro, South Korea, Nigeria, Senegal and Angola will be distributed into Groups B, D, F and H during the proceedings slated at 6:45 p.m. Manila time.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas President Al Panlilio is in the Chinese city to represent the country for the draw while a PBA delegation led by Commissioner Willie Marcial and members of the Board of Governors is also due to attend.

National coach Yeng Guiao, who didn’t make the trip due to his PBA commitments with NLEX, will be an interested spectator as the draw will launch Gilas’ initial plans for the World Cup.

Getting a favorable draw will be beneficial in Gilas’ bid to qualify for next year’s Olympics as the best-placed Asian team will secure a spot in the Games set in Tokyo.

“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 that 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).

FIBA’s draw will be graced by NBA legends Kobe Bryant, who last year was named as the World Cup’s global ambassador and Yao Ming.

What do you think?

Written by Rafael Bandayrel

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