TAIPEI - Gilas Pilipinas got its title bid back on track with an impressive 88-72 win over host Chinese-Taipei A on Sunday night, but its Jones Cup hopes no longer rest in its hands.
For starters, Canada, which dealt the Philippines an opening 90-77 setback on Saturday, must lose at least one of its next seven games - and ideally two - to keep the title door open for Gilas.
Under the tournament format, the team with the best record at the end of the single-round robin tournament is declared champion, with ties broken under the quotient system.
The Canadians are lording it over the field with a 2-0 (win-loss) mark, beating a tall, disciplined Lithuanian side, 102-99, on Sunday in a fitting follow-up to the win over Gilas - not bad for a hastily assembled side that got to practice just four hours together prior to flying in.
Even if Canada slips up, Gilas may need to sweep its remaining seven games to regain the title it last won in 2013 with a team led by tournament MVP LA Tenorio.
Mighty Sports, an import-laced Philippine club team, ruled this tournament last year.
Gilas' youngsters are expected to breeze past Taipei's B team on Tuesday, but should have its hands full against teams like Lithuania, Iran, and perennial contender South Korea.
Lithuania is represented here by Prienu Birstono Vytautas, the reigning Division II champion in the country's top league with tall players who held their own against Canada on Sunday.
Iran is represented here by its Team B, with coach Abbas Aghakouchaki saying at least two of his players are bound to be elevated to the A team for the Fiba Asia Cup in Lebanon next month.
South Korea also has a young team with a sprinkling of national team maintays.
Iraq is also turning out to be the tournament's surprise package with two early victories, although these came against minnows India and Japan.