Gilas drawn with New Zealand in Asia Cup Qualifiers
The Philippines will be crossing paths with New Zealand, Chinese Taipei, and Hong Kong in the early stages of its redemption bid in the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) Asia Cup.
The three nations have been identified as Gilas Pilipinas’ early assignments for the Asia Cup Qualifiers following a draw ceremony in Doha, Qatar, on Wednesday that featured former skipper Gabe Norwood and Iran’s newly retired ace Hamed Haddadi.
The four squads are set to play each other twice over the course of three windows from February 2024, November 2024, and then February 2025 using a home-and-away format.
The finest two teams by the end of group play will be awarded outright passage into the main tournament set sometime in 2025.
World No. 21 New Zealand, which climbed six notches in the latest Fiba ladder, is shaping up as the most dangerous opponent for the Nationals, who will try to make up for a disappointing campaign in July of last year.
Then coached by Chot Reyes, that Gilas team that featured a mix of PBA players, Japan, and South Korean imports, and amateurs missed the quarterfinals for the first time in 15 years.
Gilas’ road to redemption may have become clearer, but the program remains teetering on the edge with national coach Tim Cone only calling the shots on an interim basis.
The Barangay Ginebra mentor, who is also the winningest coach in the Philippine Basketball Association, made it clear that he is a mere stop-gap measure for the program.
Cone is currently neck-deep in priming a squad for the Asian Games that gets going this weekend in Hangzhou, China, and is even struggling to put together a roster due to a complex miscommunication with the local organizing committee.
The Fiba Asia Cup serves as a qualification pathway to the Basketball World Cup. The upcoming edition of the continental tournament has become crucial as the Philippines will now have no hosting power to tap into in order to qualify for the global showcase.