How Bad Was The Gilas OQT Draw?

Bad enough.

Our group in the Manila Olympic Qualifying Tournament include what is probably the strongest team in the entire qualifiers (France) and in the other group, arguably the second or third strongest team (Canada). New Zealand, Senegal, and Turkey complete our group and of the three, it’s only Senegal that I’d say we’d be the favored to win. 
The short tournament format makes every game a must-win: lose one and you’ve got one foot out the door. So starting the tournament off by going up against the prohibitive favorites, France, certainly puts us in a bad situation almost immediately. If the likes of Tony Parker, Nicolas Batum, Rudy Gobert, Joakim Noah, Boris Diaw, Evan Fournier, Ian Mahinmi and Nando de Colo show the deadly form they showed at the 2014 FIBA World Cup, they should be heads and shoulders above everyone else.

The New Zealand game is a game we can win…if we play to our potential. The Kiwis will certainly be more physical than us…after all, they hone their game against Australia, one of the best in the world. So, in their minds, they will be the favorites to win. But a healthy Jason Castro, a fit Andray Blatche, a pain-free June Mar Fajardo and NBA star Jordan Clarkson should be more than up to the task.

Which brings us to the knock out games. It’s win or go home time and my guess is we’ll finish second in our group (after France). Which means we’ll probably go up against fast rising basketball superpower Canada. I actually like our chances against Canada, seeing as they may be more talented but experience and guile are definitely on our side. The Canadians are still trying to learn how to win so if we can force Canada to panic by playing hardcore defense, they’ll lose composure and make unforced errors.

If we do win against Canada, we’ll probably go up against France again. With an Olympic berth on the line, I think Gilas will try to bumrush the French in an effort to take them out of their game. Let’s hope it’s enough.

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