Whether it’s by good fortune or divine intervention, there’s no denying that the path towards a chance to get to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, has been paved and smoothened out.
Now, it remains to be seen if the Gilas Pilipinas will actually go the distance as it starts the first of what Filipino fans hope to be three knockout matches when it battles Lebanon in the quarterfinals of the 2015 Fiba Asia Men’s Championship tonight at 9:30 p.m. at the CWSC Gym in Changsha, China.
Since losing their first game to Palestine, the nationals have gone on a roll, winning their last five games, including a stunning 87-73 victory over reigning titleholder Iran that helped them claim the top seed in Group E.
In doing so, the Philippines team avoided a possible semifinal pairing with hosts China, which emerged the top seed in Group F. Instead, the Gilas will contend with Group F’s fourth-seed, Lebanon, which claimed the last ticket to the quarterfinals with an 80-76 win over Jordan on Tuesday.
The Lebanese and Jordanians finished with identical 2-3 (win-loss) marks, but the former made it via the winner-over-the other rule.
Gilas head coach reminded his players that the road gets tougher in this crucial stage of the tournament.
“Now the games are tough. All the opponents are tough,” Baldwin told Inquirer.net after scouting the Lebanese team that won over Jordan.
Should the Gilas come away with the win today, it will be taking on either Qatar or Japan in the Final Four.
The other quarterfinal match-ups will see Iran battle South Korea, China face off against India and Qatar take on Japan.