There will be no collision between world no. 1 USA and 34th-sedded Gilas Pilipinas in the preliminary round of the 2014 Fiba-World Cup in Spain.
The Filipinos were not lucky enough to be bracketed with Lebron James and Co. after ending up in Group B during the official draw for the tournament held early Tuesday morning (Manila time) at Palau de la Musica Catalana in Barcelona.
Joining the Philippines in its group is 2004 Olympic champion Argentina which could feature NBA stars Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola plus key players in Pablo Prigioni, Andres Nocioni and Carlos Delfino, Croatia, Greece, Puerto Rico, and Senegal.
Argentina is currently ranked no. 3 in the world, Greece is at no. 5, Croatia at 16th, followed by Puerto Rico at 17th.
Senegal is the only country ranked lower than the Philippines (34th) in Group B at 41.
The Philippines will be playing in the city of Seville.
Coach Chot Reyes tweeted in his account@coachot during the draw how he hoped Gilas cold have landed in Group C where there are teams which he felt can be beaten by the Nationals.
“Sayang! The 2 teams I felt kaya natin - Ukraine & Finland nasa Group C. Would've loved to be in that group. Basta #LabanPilipinas #PUSO!” Reyes wrote.
The 45th-ranked Ukraine, coached by former Memphis Grizzlies Head Coach Mike Fratello, will be bannered by two NBA big men in Suns' back-up centers Viacheslav Kravstov and Alex Len together with ex-Sacramento Kings Eugene Jeter and the 29th pick of the 2009 NBA draft in Sergiy Gladyr.
Finland, ranked no. 39 and a wildcard entry, will parade ex-Atlanta Hawks big man Hanno Mottola and playmaker Peterri Koponnen, the 30th pick of the 2007 NBA draft.
Puerto Rico finished second in the Fiba-Americas while Argentina, Senegal, and Croatia finished third in their respective continental championships.
Greece is one of the four wildcard entries in the World Cup.
The draw ended months of aspiration for the Filipinos on whether they may end up playing against a star-studded US team made up of NBA superstars in the preliminaries.
The Philippines also missed the chance of playing against world no. 2 and host Spain , which is the 2006 FIBA champion, bannered by several NBA players such as Lakers' Pau Gasol, Memphis' Mark Gasol, Wolves' Ricky Rubio, Mavs' Jose Calderon and Thunder' Serge Ibaka. Former pros and ex-Blazers' Rudy Fernandez, Knicks' former back-up point guard Sergio Rodriguez, and Sergio Llull, the 34th pick of the Denver Nuggets in the 2009 NBA Draft.
United States and Spain were bracketed in Groups A and C in order to avoid an early clash between the top two teams in the world based on Fiba rankings.
Gilas-Pilipinas is still completing it's line-up but the players who suited in the 2012 FIBA-Asia Championship will mostly composed the line-up.
The National team is still trying to naturalize Nets' Andray Blatche and Nuggets JaVale McGee in time for the World Cup in August 30 - September 14 this year in Spain.
Gilas-PIlipinas currently have Marcus Douthit, drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2004 NBA Draft,as their naturalized player.
But only one naturalized player can be used in the said event.
Completing the groupings are:
Group A – Spain, France, Egypt, Iran, Serbia, and Brazil
Group C – USA, Finland, New Zealand, Ukraine, and Dominican Republic, Turkey
Group D - Slovenia, Lithuania, Angola, Korea, Mexico, Australia
--- Jay-R U. Bayon-on
Gilas unlucky not to clash with Team USA in the preliminaries , ends up with no. 3 Argentina in Group B of FIBA World Cup
Reviewed by Phil Newsome