Two weeks from now, Gilas Pilipinas will be tested as it begins its campaign in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship in Changsha, China. This continental tournament will serve as the qualifying round for Asia in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Interestingly, the Philippines debuted at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, where it placed 5th - the highest finish for an Asian team, and last played in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany.
We all know that the national team has suffered from scheduling issues and player backouts that ultimately decimated the national pool and drastically shortened its preparation time. Coach Tab Baldwin has a lot of things to consider before finally announcing the final lineup a few days from now. Whatever happens, the players included on the national team will get their hands full against the best teams in Asia. I'm sure they will play all out and do whatever it takes to achieve their goal of qualifying for the Olympics for the first time. I know it's a tall order but only the tournament winner will have an outright berth to Rio while the next three finishers will have to play in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament with the venues still to be determined (I just hope we host one of these tournaments, after all we were a finalist in the World Cup hosting bid).
With an open mind, here is what the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship will play out:
IRI 3-0 - Iran will obviously top this group in dominating fashion.
JAP 2-1 - Japan will only lose to Iran and the rest would be comfortable wins.
IND 1-2 - India won't have their lone NBA player, they will only get a win over minnows Malaysia.
MAS 0-3 - A good learning experience for an overpowered squad.
PHI 3-0 - Philippines will definitely top this group but will have a couple of scares and slow starts.
PAL 2-1 - With Omar Krayem scoring heavy, Palestine will have a promising debut.
KUW 1-2 - It would be a battle against Hong Kong for the final slot.
HKG 0-3 - It would be a heart-breaking end for Hong Kong's campaign with a tight loss to Kuwait.
CHI 2-1 - Despite the homecourt advantage, China will lose one either to South Korea or Jordan.
KOR 2-1 - This will be three-way battler for the top seed, South Korea will beat Jordan.
JOR 2-1 - Jordan will drop to third with inferior quotient.
SIN 0-3 - Unfortunately, this team will be mowed down into submission.
LIB 2-1 - Lebanon will scrape a hard-fought prelims in this group of death.
TPE 2-1 - Chinese Taipei will lose the top spot via quotient or winner over the other.
KAZ 1-2 - The disputed final slot will be decided on the final game.
QAT 1-2 - Qatar will drop the tournament with an inferior quotient against Kazakhstam.
* - Group B has the easiest draw and will be favorable for the Philippines while Group D is considered as the Group of Death.
IRI 5-0 - Iran will again top the group despite heavy opposition from the Philippines.
PHI 4-1 - A hard-fought loss against Iran will relegate Gilas to second place.
JAP 3-2 - This young team will overcome Palestine for the third seed.
PAL 2-3 - Palestine will continue its promising debut by rounding up the group.
IND 1-4 - India will run out of gas as stronger teams outplay and outlast them.
KUW 0-5 - Kuwait will wind up winless in the second round and bow out of the tournament.
CHI 4-1 - In another group of death, China will scrape through the top spot.
LIB 4-1 - Lebanon will lose out the top seed due to inferior quotient.
KOR 3-2 - South Korea will edge out Jordan for third place.
JOR 3-2 - Jordan will round out the top four qualifiers.
TPE 1-4 - Chinese Taipei will go down fighting.
KAZ 0-5 - Kazakhstan will go home winless in the second round and bow out of the tournament.
* - Most of the best teams are in Group F and it would be unpredictable as to what team will finish in a particular order. The Philippines will probably have to aim finishing the top of its group. It doesn't even guarantee them a better draw in the knockout stages.
For 13th to 16th Place
MAS vs HKG - Malaysia will beat Hong Kong.
SIN vs QAT - No doubt, Qatar is way too much for Singapore.
13th Place Game
HKG vs QAT - Qatar will clinch 13th place
15th Place Game
MAS vs SIN - In this Causeway Derby, Singapore will beat Malaysia.
For 9th to 12th Place
IND vs KAZ - India will be no match for the taller Kazakhstan team.
KUW vs TPE - Chinese Taipei will edge out Kuwait.
9th Place Game
KAZ vs TPE - Chinese Taipei will clinch 9th place.
11th Place Game
IND vs KUW - India will clinch 11th place.
IRI vs JOR - An interesting matchup but Iran will prove stronger than Jordan.
LIB vs JAP - Lebanon will have an easy time against Japan.
CHI vs PAL - Palestine is no match for China.
PHI vs KOR - The Philippines will go all out in this grudge match game against South Korea.
For 5th to 8th Place
JOR vs JAP - Jordan will edge out Japan in this competitive matchup.
PAL vs KOR - South Korea will bounce back against Palestine.
For 1st to 4th Place
IRI vs LIB - It will go either way but Lebanon will lose to Iran in a down-the-wire finish.
CHI vs PHI - It's unfortunate but homecourt advantage will prove to be the Philippines worst enemy.
7th Place Game
JAP vs PAL - Japan will clinch 7th place.
5th Place Game
JOR vs KOR - Jordan will clinch 5th place.
3rd Place Game
LIB vs PHI - Lebanon will beat a heartbroken Philippine team to clinch 3rd place.
IRI vs CHI - Despite having full homecourt support, Iran will defend its FIBA Asia title and clinch the lone outright berth to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.
* - China, Lebanon and the Philippines will qualify for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament along with the losing finalists from FIBA Americas, Afrobasket, Eurobasket and Oceania.
** - As the losing bidder for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, the Philippines should host this tournament.
Gold - Iran (9-0)
Silver - China (7-2)
Bronze - Lebanon (7-2)
4th Place - Philippines (6-3)
5th Place - Jordan (6-3)
6th Place - South Korea (5-4)
7th Place - Japan (5-4)
8th Place - Palestine (3-6)
9th Place - Chinese Taipei (4-4)
10th Place - Kazakhstan (2-6)
11th Place - Kuwait (2-6)
12th Place - India (2-6)
13th Place - Qatar (3-2)
14th Place - Hong Kong (1-4)
15th Place - Singapore (1-4)
16th Place - Malaysia (0-5)