SCENARIOS: Gilas blasts Qatar in World Cup qualifiers. What now?

Delfin Dioquino
Given the right situation, the Philippines can advance to the FIBA World Cup for the second straight time

ONE LAST PUSH. Gilas Pilipinas has one game left to win to enhance its chances of qualifying for the FIBA World Cup. Photo from FIBA

MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas fortified its bid to qualify in the 2019 FIBA World Cup after giving Qatar an 84-46 beating in Doha on Thursday, February 21 (Friday, February 22, Philippine time). 

Here is where things stand after Day 1 of the sixth and final window of the Asian Qualifiers: 

Group E

New Zealand* 9-1

Korea* 8-2

China** 6-4

Lebanon 6-4

Jordan 5-5

Syria^ 2-8

Group F

Australia* 10-1

Japan 7-4

Iran 7-4

Philippines 6-5

Kazakhstan 4-7

Qatar^ 2-9

*Qualified **Qualified as host ^Eliminated

Host nation China gets an automatic slot, making it a total of 8 countries that will represent the Asia/Ocenia region in the World Cup.

To further enhance its chances, the Philippines must win its final qualifying game against Kazakhstan in Astana on Sunday, February 24. 

Here are the scenarios on how the Philippines can reach the World Cup for the second straight time:

1. The Philippines beats Kazakhstan 

The best-case scenario for the Philippines is if it beats Kazakhstan in its final game to improve to 7-5 in Group F.

A win will not only keep the Philippines’ chances of finishing inside the top 3, it will also boost the country’s bid of becoming the best 4th placer for the last World Cup berth.

Scenario A

Although highly unlikely, the Philippines can still barge into the top 3 and punch its ticket to the World Cup. 

How can that happen? 

The Philippines needs Japan to drop its game against Qatar and for Iran to lose to Australia so that the 3 teams will finish with identical 7-5 records. 

Thanks to Japan’s 97-89 win over Iran on Thursday, the Philippines will climb to 3rd place behind a superior quotient. Japan remains in 2nd place while Iran drops to 4th. 

Here is the final quotient among the 3 teams: 

  1. Japan +12
  2. Philippines -5
  3. Iran -7

The Philippines can count on Iran losing to Group F leader Australia, but Japan – a team that has won 7 straight games – falling prey to Group F cellar dweller Qatar? It is a little bit of a stretch.

Still, anything can happen. 

Scenario B

If Japan beats Qatar and improves to 8-4, it will clinch its World Cup seat and wrap up the top 3 cast in Group F with Australia and Iran. 

Even if Iran succumbs to Australia and finishes with the same 7-5 record with the Philippines, the Iranians will still secure 3rd place since they swept the two teams’ head-to-head matchup. 

That leaves the Philippines battling for the final World Cup berth as the best 4th placer. 

To make that happen, the Philippines needs China, currently ranked 3rd in Group E, to remain inside the top 4 and topple Jordan. 

Since China automatically qualifies for the World Cup and “shall not be included” in determining the final standings, finishing within the top 4 means teams under it – Lebanon and Jordan – will move up the rankings.

This is crucial considering that Lebanon and Jordan pose threats to the Philippines in the battle for best 4th placer. 

What the Philippines must do is down Kazakhstan to improve to 7-5 and hope Lebanon or Jordan end up with an inferior record.

Since Jordan has a lower record than Lebanon, let’s just assume it will settle for 4th in Group E – excluding China – and vie for the best 4th placer. With that in mind, the Philippines will cheer for China to beat Jordan.

That way, the Philippines will finish with a 7-5 record and edge Jordan – even if it upsets New Zealand to improve to 6-6 – as the best 4th placer to reach the World Cup. 

China and Jordan tangles at 1:30 am on Saturday, February 23 (Philippine time). 

2. The Philippines loses to Kazakhstan

If the Philippines gets swept by Kazakhstan in their head-to-head matchup and drops to 6-6, can it still become the best 4th placer? Yes, given the right situation. 

Scenario C

The best way the Philippines becomes the best 4th placer even if it loses to Kazakhstan is by seeing Lebanon and Jordan – whichever lands in 4th place – drop their sixth window games in Group E. 

Lebanon has New Zealand and Korea as its final two assignments while Jordan has China and New Zealand.

Considering Lebanon and Jordan went winless against their aformentioned opponents in the earlier windows, there is a high chance the two teams will finish the qualifiers with 6-6 and 5-7 records, respectively. 

Lebanon will then climb to 3rd place due to the China rule while Jordan will settle for 4th. 

If that happens, the Philippines will beat Jordan as the best 4th placer with a better record. 

Scenario D

But what if Jordan manages to stun either China or New Zealand to finish with the same 6-6 card with the Philippines?

The Philippines will hope Lebanon drops both of its sixth window games against New Zealand and Korea so that Lebanon and Jordan will be tied at both 6-6. 

Since Jordan has a superior quotient over Lebanon in their head-to-head matchup, it will leapfrog to 3rd place. Lebanon, meanwhile, will settle for 4th and contend as the best 4th placer. 

This is where it gets difficult for the Philippines. 

To break the tie between the Philippines and Lebanon, the team that has the higher point differential from all games played will become the better 4th placer. 

If the qualifiers ended after the fifth window, Lebanon advances to the World Cup as the best 4th placer by a landslide, compiling a whopping point differential of +101 compared to the Philippines’ point differential of -21. 

But thanks to its 38-point drubbing of Qatar to begin the sixth window, the Philippines has upped its point differential to +17.

To become the better 4th placer, the Philippines cannot lose to Kazakhstan by more than 16 points and wish that Lebanon drops both of its games by at least a combined 100 points. 

If that transpires, the Philippines will finish with a point differential of not lower than +1 and Lebanon will end up with a point differential of not more than 0. 

World Cup berth clinched. –

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.