MANILA, Philippines – The stars aligned for Gilas Pilipinas and it will see action in the 2019 FIBA World Cup that will be staged in China from August 31 to September 15.
A total of 32 countries – the most in World Cup history – will compete in the global basketball meet and they've been separated into 8 groups of 4, with the top two teams advancing to the second round. (LOOK: Gilas Pilipinas schedule in FIBA World Cup 2019)
In the FIBA draw last March 16, Gilas got bunched in what coach Yeng Guiao calls the "group of near death” as the Philippines shares Group D with world No. 4 Serbia, No. 13 Italy and No. 39 Angola. (LOOK: NBA players Gilas may face in FIBA World Cup)
But before the competition goes underway, here are some facts about the Philippines' history in the World Cup:
1. The Philippines has competed in the World Cup 5 times.
2. In its first World Cup appearance in 1954 in Brazil, the Philippines made a statement by clinching the bronze medal behind basketball great Caloy Loyzaga – who was named to the tournament's Mythical 5.
Back then, the final round had 8 teams playing each other for a total of 7 games each and the top teams with the best records won medals.
The Philippines compiled a 5-2 card for bronze while USA (7-0) and Brazil (6-1) bagged gold and silver, respectively.
3. The 1954 edition turned out to be the only time the Philippines had a podium finish as it placed 8th in 1959 in Chile, 13th in 1974 in Puerto Rico, 8th in 1978 as host nation and 21st in 2014 in Spain.
4. While the Philippines finished 8th among the 14 nations in 1978, it actually went winless in 8 games.
As host, it earned an outright semifinals berth but lost all of its games, including the battle-for-seventh match against Australia. Teams ranked 9th to 14th won at least one game.
5. After 1978, the Philippines missed the next 8 World Cups before qualifying for the 2014 edition thanks to a dramatic silver-medal finish in the FIBA Asia Championship held in Manila a year earlier.
7. Apparently, it should have been a total of 7 previous World Cup appearances for the Philippines had it not been suspended in 1963 and had it not withdrawn in 1986.
8. Instead of Brazil, the Philippines was initially tabbed to host the 1963 edition and was supposed to be the first Asian country to host a World Cup.
However, FIBA suspended the Philippines after President Diosdado Macapagal refused to issue visas to players and team officials from socialist countries, particularly Yugoslavia and Soviet Union.
9. In 1986, meanwhile, the Philippines – despite striking gold in the Asian Basketball Confederation Championship a year earlier – withdrew from the tournament following the People Power Revolution.
From 1980 to 1986, the Philippine squad was known as the NCC team, owned by Danding Cojuangco – a noted ally of President Ferdinand Marcos – through his company Northern Cement Corporation.
But following Marcos' ouster in 1986, the program was dissolved and the Philippines withdrew from the World Cup. It was replaced by Malaysia.
10. Although the Philippines has suffered a drop in the rankings throughout the years, it is one of only 16 nations out of the total 56 which saw action in the World Cup to ever win a medal. – Rappler.com
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.