THE inspiring showing of Gilas Pilipinas in the recent Fiba World Cup, highlighted by its first win in the meet over four decades, has the Philippines climbing up in the latest rankings released by the world’s governing body for basketball.
The Philippines rose three rungs to No. 31 from No. 34 prior to the start of the world championship in Spain, where it finished with a 1-4 record at the end of its preliminary campaign.
The lone win - the first for the country since the 1974 edition of the meet in Puerto Rico - came at the expense of Senegal, 81-79, during the nationals’ final game. Three of the four losses however, were close ones against Croatia, Argentina, and Puerto Rico, which Gilas Pilipinas lost by average marging of 3.6 points.
Asian neighbor and fellow World Cup campaigner Iran and Korea, though, still finished ahead of the Philippines in the new Fibarankings.
The Iranians climbed from No. 20 to no. 17, while the Sokors landed at 27th from their previous ranking of 31.
Iran finished with a similar 1-4 record with Gilas Pilipinas in the world championship, while Korea limped home with an 0-5 slate.
The three countries earned the right to represent Asia in the World Cup by virtue of their 1-2-3 finish in the FIBA-Asia Men’s Championship held here in Manila last year.
Despite failing to qualify in the world meet, China kept its hold as the no. 1 cage power in Asia after placing at no. 14, down by two notches from its previous rankings.
Ironically, Senegal finished one wrung ahead of the Philippines at no. 30 by virtue of its 16th place finish in Spain behind a 2-4 record after beating Croatia and Puerto Rico. The African power also registered the biggest turnaround in the rankings after previously being ranked at 41st.
Another Asian country ranked higher to the Philippines is Jordan at no. 28 from no. 30, although the team, now being coached by former Smart Gilas mentor Rajko Toroman, also didn’t see action in the world meet.
The United States remained as the best basketball power in the world as it retained its no. 1 ranking following a nine-game sweep of the World Cup, including a 129-92 blowout of Serbia in the gold medal play.