SEABA winner grouped with Australia in Asian Qualifiers
MANILA, Philippines – The 2017 SEABA Championships winner will be one of the first teams to get a crack at basketball heavyweight Australia in the upcoming Asian Qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
The SEABA slot was drawn into Group B, along with newcomer Australia, Japan, and Taiwan, during a ceremony held in the wee hours of Monday, May 8 in Guangzhou, China.
The Philippines served as a place-holder for that slot – as explained by Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes in a tweet seen below – owing to the country being the highest ranked team in the region (27th in the world).
Place-holder lang tayo, dipa kasi tapos South & East Asia qualifiers so They used the top ranked team in SEA. That slot goes to SEABA winner https://t.co/wwfWkDfUmB— Chot Reyes (@coachot) May 8, 2017
Should the Philippines win the SEABA tilt, which tips off here on Friday, May 12, Gilas Pilipinas will go on to compete in the FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon come August, and in the Asian Qualifiers starting November.
This is the first year the new Asian Qualifiers format will be implemented, where there will be home and away games played throughout the year for two rounds until early 2019.
The first round will have 3 playing windows in November 2017, then in February and June 2018. After which the top 3 teams from each group (a total of 12) will move on to the second round.
Round two will be played in 3 windows in September and November 2018, and February 2019, where the top 3 teams of each group plus the best fourth placer (a total of 7 teams) will qualify for the World Cup in China.
Focus on SEABA
The Philippines is vying to qualify for the World Cup in 2019 and its first task will be to top the SEABA tournament next week.
Coach Chot Reyes said the entire team gathered with naturalized big man Andray Blatche and watched the livestream of the draw following team dinner with family members.
"It's not the best, but it's not bad," Reyes said of the group, which is seen as "favorable" for the 10th ranked Australia, which joins the Asian zone of FIBA along with New Zealand in a merger with FIBA Oceania.
"But right now we're not thinking about it because we have to win this first. I'm not putting too much attention to it. We can do that after May 18, if we win this SEABA."
Although expectations are high for Gilas to win, the team has no plans of falling into complacency against Southeast Asian neighbors eager to upset them. – Rappler.com