The fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers takes place this month and Gilas Pilipinas is up for a challenging two games against Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Currently, the Philippines ranks third in their group standings with a win-loss record of 3-3. And although as co-hosts for next year’s FIBA World Cup, Gilas will definitely be looking to improve their record with a couple of wins to boost the team’s confidence in preparation for the tournament.
Gilas vs. Jordan
Gilas Pilipinas will first be facing Jordan in the upcoming FIBA window on November 10 (November 11, 12:00 AM, Manila time).
The last time Gilas faced Jordan was over five years ago in 2017 in the FIBA Asia Cup. In their last match held in Beirut, the Philippines won, 75-70, securing a seventh-place finish in the tournament. Additionally, in the country’s last four games against Jordan, Gilas has won three times.
However, after five years, much has changed.
Currently, Jordan sits higher on the world rankings in 35th. Comparatively, Gilas is in 41st. However, in their group standings for the Asian Qualifiers, the Philippines shares the same win-loss record as Jordan in their group standings.
Their match next week will break the tie—but the Philippines will be in for a challenge in coming out ahead. In particular, some of the top performers among the Asian teams are from Jordan. Namely, Dar Tucker records the third-most points per game, while Freddy Ibrahim has the second-most assists.
Gilas vs. Saudi Arabia
After their match against Jordan, Gilas will be facing familiar foes, Saudi Arabia on November 13 (November 14, 12:00 AM, Manila time).
In the last FIBA window, the Philippines also competed against Saudi Arabia, who is currently 73rd in the world, with the advantage of their home court in the Mall of Asia Arena. In front of their supporting crowd, Gilas put out a dominant 84-46 win.
Meeting again in the fifth window, the Philippine team is again the favorite to win. However, Saudi Arabia will have a home-court advantage this time around. With this, they are expected to put up more of a challenge, especially as they try to improve their win-loss record of 1-5.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) recently released the preliminary roster for both upcoming games. Here are some of the key players we can expect to see on the court this month.
The key international players returning to Gilas include Kai Sotto, Dwight Ramos, Thirdy Ravena, Kiefer Ravena, and Ray Parks. In particular, Sotto and Ramos are expected well after they impressed in the last window. However, this time around, NBA player Jordan Clarkson will not be around to lead the team as he did in August.
In addition to this, PBA players Scottie Tompson, Japeth Aguilar, Chis Newsome, and Jamie Malonzo are among the PBA players who are returning for this window as well.
Finally, as the current UAAP season is put on a short break, Carl Tamayo, Kevin Quiambao, and Ange Kouame also join the roster.
Both matches against Jordan and Saudi Arabia will prove to be challenges for Gilas. But as they have been gearing up over the last two months, especially more recently with the returning international players, the Philippines will certainly put up a fight as they test themselves in preparing for the World Cup.