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MANILA, Philippines – The 2025 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers mark a new beginning for Gilas Pilipinas.
Besides starting a four-year FIBA cycle, the national team will turn the page on another chapter – now with a permanent head coach, Tim Cone, and a 12-man roster planned to carry the torch until the next World Cup.
After capturing the Philippines’ first Asian Games gold medal in men’s basketball in 61 years, Gilas looks to carry a sizeable momentum heading into the Asia Cup qualifiers.
Here are some facts about the new-era Gilas and the 2025 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers, based on the FIBA website:
The first window of the Asia Cup qualifiers is slated for February 22 and 25, 2024, in a home-away format.
Clustered in Group B, Gilas Pilipinas will face Hong Kong on the road on the 22nd at 8 pm Manila time. The Filipinos will then host the Chinese Taipei on the 25th at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City at 7:30 pm.
Group B also includes Oceania powerhouse New Zealand, which Gilas will face in the November 2024 tournament window.
The 24 teams across six groups will compete for 16 FIBA Asia Cup slots. The top two teams of each group will qualify for the Asia Cup, while the six third-placed teams will still have to go through another qualifying tournament for the final remaining spots.
Like any team in the qualifiers, Gilas will play one home and one road game against each team in its group.
Games will be played over three windows from February 2024, November 2024, and February 2025. Each team holds the right to change lineups in each of the windows.
The FIBA Asia Cup will be held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in 2025.
Teams to watch out for
As the name suggests, the Asia Cup is FIBA’s top tournament to showcase the best teams of the continent, albeit with two Oceania mainstays in Australia and New Zealand.
Incidentally, the two aforementioned countries have always been top-level contenders that Gilas and the rest of Asia have always been wary of, and the 2024-2025 cycle is no exception.
Ranked No. 4 and No. 21 in the world, respectively, Australia and New Zealand are actually the Asia Cup’s highest-seeded teams, with Japan being mainland Asia’s top team at No. 26.
Along with No. 28 Lebanon, No. 29 China, and No. 32 Jordan, these six countries ranked above No. 38 Philippines and are the consistent barometers for excellence in the continent.
Should Gilas qualify for the eighth straight time – a period spanning 19 years – these nations should immediately be on top of the team’s watchlist while also keeping a close eye on the countries ranked below, like South Korea, Indonesia, and Chinese Taipei.
Tim Cone, the PBA’s winningest coach, will be at the national team’s helm, while team manager Richard del Rosario will be Gilas’ team manager.
The 12-man roster includes PBA stars June Mar Fajardo, Scottie Thompson, Calvin Oftana, Chris Newsome, Jamie Malonzo, CJ Perez, and Japan B-League imports Dwight Ramos, Kai Sotto, AJ Edu, and Carl Tamayo.
Rounding up the team are UAAP Season 86 Most Valuable Player Kevin Quiambao and the returning Justin Brownlee, who recently got his FIBA clearance to play in the qualifiers after a voluntary suspension over his use of a banned substance in the Asian games.
However, the team is expected to parade only 11 players in the first window as Edu remains sidelined with a torn meniscus. – Rappler.com