The Philippines at the FIBA World Cup

The Philippines at the FIBA World Cup: Recalling Every Qualification

The Philippines has competed at the FIBA World Cup six times, with one more coming up in 2023. Let’s look back at every performance.

Ever since the first-ever FIBA World Cup in 1950, the Philippines has qualified for the top tournament six times in history. And, as one of the co-hosts for the 2023 edition, the Southeast Asian nation will again be returning to the biggest basketball stage for a seventh time, getting to play on their home courts.

Before the 2023 FIBA World Cup officially tips off, let’s look back at every appearance the Philippines has made in the tournament’s history so far.

1. 1954

The Philippines made its debut in the FIBA World Cup (then known as the FIBA World Championship) in the tournament’s second edition in 1954. The nation was one of just 12 teams to compete.

In the group stage, the Philippines was Group A with Brazil and Paraguay and finished the group stage with one win and one loss, allowing the team to advance to the final round of the tournament.

Following the old format of the FIBA World Championship, all eight teams in the final round play one another for a total of seven games, and the teams with the top three records finish on the podium.

Tallying five wins out of seven games, the Philippines finished in third place, taking home a bronze medal.

Going undefeated, the United States was crowned the champions of the 1954 FIBA World Championships, and Brazil came in second with just one loss.

2. 1959
Philippine squad for the 1959 FIBA World Championships
The Philippine squad for the 1959 FIBA World Championships. (Photo credit: PH Sports Bureau on Facebook)

Following their third-place finish in the previous edition, the Philippine team was again able to qualify for the 1959 FIBA World Cup in Chile, this time as one nation out of 13.

In Group C, the Filipinos faced the talents from Bulgaria, Puerto Rico, and Uruguay. Unfortunately, the Philippines won just one game against Uruguay, finishing the preliminary round with a 1-2 win-loss record.

With this, the Philippines didn’t qualify for the final round but competed in the classification round, where they defeated the United Arab Republic, Canada, and Uruguay for an eighth-place finish.

Brazil won its first-ever title that year. Meanwhile, the United States finished in second and the host nation Chile finished in third place.

3. 1974
1974 Philippines Basketball Team
The 1974 Philippines Basketball Team. (Photo credit: PH Sports Bureau on Facebook)

After 1959, the Philippines missed three editions of the World Cup and came back in 1974. At this point, the number of competing teams increased to 14 from five confederations.

The Philippines was drawn into a tough group, facing Argentina, Spain, and the United States in Group B for the preliminary round of the tournament. Facing these strong teams, the country, unfortunately, came out of the group without a single win.

Failing to make it to the final round, the Philippines finished 13th in the classification round, tallying two wins and three losses.

The Soviet Union won its second title that year, with Yugoslavia as the runners-up, and the United States rounding out the podium.

4. 1978
The Philippines at the 1978 FIBA World Cup
The Soviet Union vs. The Philippines in the 1978 FIBA World Championship. (Photo credit: FIBA)

1978 was a big year for the Philippines, as the nation became the first-ever Asian country to host the FIBA World Championship.

The tournament took place in Metro Manila, with matches in Rizal Memorial Coliseum and Araneta Coliseum. And as the hosts, following former tournament rules, the Philippines got a free pass straight to the finals round.

However, playing against a strong roster of competing nations, the Philippines was unable to find a win in the finals round against the seven other teams. Thus, the team finished in eighth place, losing to Australia in the seventh-place playoff match.

Yugoslavia finished on the top of the tournament in Manila, with the Soviet Union coming in behind them and Brazil in third.

READ: Hoop History: Recalling The 1978 FIBA World Cup in Manila

5. 2014
Philippines vs Argentina in the 2014 FIBA World Cup
The Philippines vs. Argentina in the 2014 FIBA World Cup. (Photo credit: FIBA)

After hosting the tournament themselves, the Philippines suffered from a long drought, coming back 36 years later for the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

A lot had changed since their last appearance. 24 nations came to compete, with six teams per group. In addition, the finals round had shifted from a round-robin format to the Round-of-16 format we now know.

In 2014, the Philippines were drawn into Group B with Greece, Croatia, Argentina, Senegal, and Puerto Rico. But, facing stronger opponents, they only managed to take one win, an 81-79 victory over Senegal in overtime.

With this, the Philippines finished in 21st place. The United States took home the gold, with Serbia in second place and France in third.

6. 2019
2019 Philippines National Basketball Team
The 2019 Philippines National Basketball Team. (Photo credit: FIBA)

The 2019 FIBA World Cup was the first edition to feature 32 participating nations, and the Philippines qualified for one of the slots to compete in China.

The national team, better known as Gilas Pilipinas, competed in Group D against Serbia, Italy, and Angola. In 2019, the Philippines held a world ranking of 31st, while Serbia topped the group as fourth, Italy was ranked 13th, and Angola in 39th.

As higher-ranked teams, Italy and Serbia both eased past the Philippines in the group stage. However, the Philippines suffered a narrow 84-81 loss to Angola in overtime to finish the first round.

With this, the Philippines were again unable to advance to the next stage and competed in the 17th to 32nd place classification round, where they finished last.

Spain won their second title in tournament history, with Argentina as the runners-up, and France in third place.

7. Coming up: 2023
Gilas Pilipinas in the 2023 FIBA Asian World Cup Qualifiers
Gilas Pilipinas in the 2023 FIBA Asian World Cup Qualifiers. (Photo credit: FIBA)

Ever since the Philippines’ first-ever FIBA World Cup appearance in 1954, the nation struggled against other competing nations. However, 2023 is a chance to rewrite the trends of the past year, especially as the country is one of the three hosts of the 2023 World Cup.

With games taking place on Gilas’ home courts, the Philippines will definitely be fighting to advance to every round.

Could 2023 manage to become the country’s best year yet?

Banner images from PH Sports Bureau and FIBA.

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