|Gilas will be marquee spectators of the Jordan-China game. FIBA (file photo)|
By Ivan Saldajeno
GILAS Pilipinas got a huge boost in its bid to make the FIBA World Cup after blasting Qatar on the road early Friday.
[Related Story: Gilas keeps FIBA WC hopes alive after blasting Qatar]
However, it's not yet the end of the road for the Filipinos.
Following Japan's huge win at Iran to bolster its own shot at the World Cup, Gilas still has a lot of work to do for it to barge its way to China.
In fact, the Nationals may need some help from China.
First, the current standings.
Since Australia (10-1) is already in and Kazakhstan (4-7) and Qatar (2-9) are out of contention in Group F, let's look at the teams still fighting for a spot in the World Cup.
Japan will visit Qatar, Iran will go to Australia, and Gilas will play Kazakstan in simultaneous 10:30 p.m. (Philippine Time) tip-offs on Sunday night.
The imperative here is for Gilas to beat Kazakhstan.
But in order for Gilas to make it outright, the team must hope for Qatar, which it drubbed by 38, to stun Japan at home.
The scenario will force a tie at 7-5 at the end of the qualifiers. Because Gilas swept Japan in the first round, Gilas gets the tiebreaker and will finish third.
However, if Iran falls at Australia too, a three-way tie ensues, and Japan, with a plus-11 point differential, now owns the tiebreaker and will finish second.
Still, Gilas, with the second-best point differential at minus-5, will finish third, while Iran (minus-6) slips to fourth.
But with the way both Qatar and Japan are playing in the WCQ, a Qatar upset could be a long shot.
That leads us to the more feasible scenario: Gilas is likely to finish fourth in Group F.
The team, however, can still make the World Cup if it has a better record than Jordan in the end.
"Wait! Isn't Jordan number five in Group E?"
While Jordan is indeed fifth in Group E at 5-5, the record of China, which is already seeded to the World Cup as the host nation, will not be considered.
So technically speaking, Lebanon is third at 6-4 (actually tied with China) and Jordan is "fourth".
Jordan will host China early Saturday (Philippine Time), while Lebanon will take on New Zealand at home later in the day.
As aforementioned above, Gilas may need some help from China as a win by the latter will bring Jordan down to 5-6.
That will put Jordan's back at the wall as another loss (against New Zealand) or a Gilas win will knock the team out of contention, effectively giving the WC slot to Gilas.
In fact, Jordan must sweep both its Window 6 assignments at home and hope that Lebanon, which will host South Korea after the New Zealand game, lose both of its games to make the World Cup outright.
Otherwise, if Jordan loses both to China and New Zealand, Gilas will make the FIBA World Cup regardless of what happens to the team at Kazakhstan.
But what if Kazakhstan repeats over Gilas and Jordan manages to win at least one?
First, if Jordan sweeps Window 6, Jordan will have a better record than Gilas, and the latter may now have to resort to Lebanon's results.
If Lebanon gets to beat at least one of New Zealand and South Korea, Lebanon can finish either 7-5 or even 8-4, so Lebanon and Jordan are in and Gilas will now have to wait for 2023, the year it will host the FIBA WC.
But if Lebanon goes 0-2 in the sixth window, Gilas and Lebanon will be tied at 6-6.
The tiebreaker is the point differential of both teams for the entire window.
Currently, Gilas is plus-17, but Lebanon is plus-101.
So Gilas may also hope for both New Zealand and South Korea to drub Lebanon by humongous margins.
This scenario also holds even if Jordan also ends up at 6-6 as it holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Lebanon.
But, if Lebanon gets to win at least one and Jordan indeed goes to 6-6, then only Jordan and Gilas will dispute the tiebreaker.
Jordan's case, however, is a more feasible one as it has a plus-56 point differential.
Still, a blowout from either China or New Zealand is needed.
Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno