Gilas, Korea stretch rivalry in World Cup qualifiers

MANILA, Philippines — Gilas Pilipinas is set for another round of rivalry battle with South Korea following yesterday’s draw for the FIBA World Cup 2023 Qualifiers in Switzerland.

Gilas, which upended the so-called “Korean curse” and beat the Korean squad twice in the Asia Cup Qualifiers last June, found itself bunched with its familiar foe for the Group A hostilities.

Aside from Korea, the Filipino dribblers also drew New Zealand, the Oceanian power once coached by Gilas project director Tab Baldwin, and India as opponents in the home-and-away qualifiers that begin in November.

The Philippines is already seeded into the 2023 basketball showpiece as one of the three hosts but is still competing in the qualifiers for added experience.

Co-host Japan seeks the same in Group B along with Australia, China and Japan. Third host Indonesia, which needs to place eighth in the Asian tilt to qualify for the WC, is in Group C while Iran, Kazakhstan, Syria and Bahrain make up Group D.

The draw ceremony officially ushered in the 2023 WC hosting and buildup.

“With it, we carry the grand responsibility of harnessing and broadcasting the unifying power and spirit of sports,” said SBP chairman emeritus and local organizing committee chairman Manny V. Pangilinan.

“From the Philippines, the world can expect what our players typically bring to the basketball court – everything. We offer our warmth and hospitality, our care and attention, our energy and passion.”

Pangilinan reiterated the full commitment of the MVP Group of Companies, including global partner Smart Communications, and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to make the endeavor a “definitive success.”

“We shall leave no stone unturned to make our hosting a memorable experience so that in the end, it will be a win for all,” he said.

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