By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Gilas Pilipinas men’s national basketball team improved two places higher than their previous world ranking after their FIBA World Cup campaign last August 25, 2023.
From world no. 40, the Filipino hoopers are now ranked no. 38 following a 1-4 win-loss record during the first round and the classification phase of the global hoops games.
Despite losing at the hands of the Dominican Republic, Angola, Italy, and South Sudan, Gilas saved their best for last and outdueled China in their final game, 96-75, led by Jordan Clarkson who erupted for 34 points built from an efficient 11/18 shooting from the field.
The win over China not only prevented the national team from ending their 2023 FIBA World Cup campaign without a win but also halted a near decade-long losing streak in the global hoops games.
Gilas’ last recorded win in the FIBA World Cup dated back to 2014 when they outdueled Senegal. The team was still led by Jimmy Alapag, now a retired PBA player and is currently a part of the coaching staff of the Sacramento Kings in the NBA.
The national team will have to wait for the next Olympic qualifying tournament after failing to book a ticket to Paris next year.
After the World Cup, Gilas will be flying to China this September for the Asian Games and will be held in Hangzhou until October 8, 2023.
Gilas will have a new system under head coach Tim Cone but the difference is that the pool of players has new additions while some holdovers from the World Cup team remain committed.
Instead of Clarkson as their naturalized player, the national team reverted to Justin Brownlee boosted by Ange Kouame.
Also making their return to Gilas are Terrence Romeo, Calvin Abueva, Stanley Pringle, and Jason Perkins.