25 August, 2023
10 September
6 Jordan Clarkson (PHI)
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Qualified Team Focus - Philippines: Manila waiting to carry Gilas Pilipinas

MIES (Switzerland) - The draw for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, presented by Wanda, will be held in Manila, Philippines, on April 29. It is now time to meet the 32 teams that try to become World Champions in a few months.

Here is the number 40 team in the FIBA World Ranking Men, presented by Nike, five time FIBA Asia Cup champs and 2013 and 2015 runners-up and 1954 World Cup third placed finishers Philippines.

How did they qualify

The Philippines qualified for the World Cup 2023 as one of the three host nations, and Gilas Pilipinas came into the qualification after the disappointment of finishing 32nd of 32 teams at the last World Cup and dropping both games of the FIBA Men's Olympic Qualifying Tournament Belgrade to miss the Tokyo Olympics.

Philippines ended up having three different coaches through the Asian Qualifiers. Tab Baldwin had stayed on as playcaller at the start of the campaign but stepped down before the Philippines actually began their games ahead of the February 2022 window and was replaced by the returning Chot Reyes. He gave his assistant Nenad Vucinic the reins for the third window in June/July 2022 before Reyes guided the team at the FIBA Asia Cup 2022 and the remainder of the Qualifiers.

There was not a lot of continuity in the team with Dwight Ramos appearing in all eight of the games but no one else playing in more than four qualifiers games as the coaching staff went through their player pool.

Gilas Pilipinas' first games were in February 2022 in a bubble and the team split the opening two games - a comfortable 24-point win over India and an 88-63 loss to New Zealand. The New Zealand game saw Thirdy Ravena score 23 points and Dwight Ramos added 18 points and 10 rebounds. With Vucinic at the helm for the June/July 2022 window, Philippines lost again to New Zealand by 46 points on the road. But the team bounced back thanks to 21 points from Ramos in a 79-63 win over India.

Reyes came back and guided the team at the FIBA Asia Cup 2022, where they lost to Japan in the Qualification to the Quarter-Finals. The start of the Second Round of the Asian Qualifiers in August 2022 saw the FIBA debut of Jordan Clarkson, and the NBA star didn't disappoint, scoring 27 points with 7 assists and Ramos added 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 steals. But the Philippines ended up losing 85-81 to Lebanon. Clarkson followed that with 23 points in a 38-point home win over Saudi Arabia in which Kai Sotto chipped in 16 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocks in front of a massive crowd of 15,288 fans.

Reyes continued to rotate players for the November 2022 window during which the team grabbed two road victories to extend the winning streak to three games. Sotto starred with 16 points and 7 rebounds and Scottie Thompson picked up 8 points, 13 rebounds and 8 assists in a 74-66 win in Jordan. Sotto was outstanding again in a 13-point win over Saudi Arabia with 11 points, 9 rebounds and 5 blocks.

Best result at the World Cup

The Philippines will be playing in the World Cup for the seventh time and third straight time. They will be hosting or co-hosting the event for a second time following 1978. The country also withdrew twice (1967 and 1986). The country's first appearance was also its best result. In 1954 in Brazil, the Philippines beat Paraguay and then lost to Brazil in the three-team first group stage to qualify for the Final Round. There they lost to USA but then beat Formosa and Israel before falling to Brazil again. The Asians finished with wins over Canada and France for a 5-2 record in the group and third place in the competition. The Philippines added top-eight showings in 1959 and 1978 - the latter being their last participation before 2014.

Last World Cup appearances

Philippines fans were thrilled in 2014 to be back on the world stage for the first time in 36 years. But the team struggled with a 1-4 record in the group stage, beating Senegal but failing to reach the Round of 16. In 2019, Philippines dropped all three games in a very tough Group D - losing to Italy by 46 points and Serbia by 59 points before falling to Angola 84-81 in overtime. In the 17th-32nd Classification, Philippines lost to Tunisia and Iran and finished 32nd of 32 teams.


Players to watch

Early June, a preliminary roster with 21 names was published.

In what is shaping up to be one of the hardest team selections in the country's history for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, coach Chot Reyes will choose from 21 players.

The governing body of basketball in the Philippines (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, Inc) has announced the preliminary squad that includes Jordan Clarkson, Justin Brownlee and Ange Kouame, three juggernauts that will vie for the one naturalized spot on the roster.

There are also burgeoning star Kai Sotto and fellow big June Mar Fajardo, brothers Kiefer and Thirdy Ravenna and sweeting shooting Bobby Ray Parks, Jr, amongst others.