What if Japan were like the Korean peninsula wherein it is split in half with the anime-crazy democratic wonderland and a backward communist totalitarian nightmare? It almost became a reality if the U.S. did not had the atomic bomb or decided not to use it. With politicians and military leaders failed to make a consensus over the implementation of Operation Downfall - the Allied invasion of the Japanese home islands, the Soviets decided to launch their own version instead.

As the war drew to a close, the next conflict was already emerging, with the Soviets and the rest of the Allies each trying to gain control over the defeated Axis countries. That is, of course, why some wound up getting divided, like North and South Korea and East and West Germany. Well, that exact thing almost happened to Japan.

During the final days of the war, the Soviets unleashed its fearsome steamrolling army into Japanese-controlled Manchuria to push the thinly-spread defenses back. This was part of a massive Allied invasion plan that was launched on the same day as the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Experts believed that the Soviet Union originally had no intention of stopping at Manchuria. It was supposed to be dry-run of a full-scale invasion of Japan itself, which would've seen the Red Army dance the mamushka in the war-torn, smoldering Tokyo ruins.

It was envisioned that the Soviets would invade in the north before Operation Olympic and Coronet would commence. By late August 1945, the invasion force would reach Hokkaido two months earlier than the scheduled Allied 'Normandy'-type beachheads. However, Stalin kept his plan a secret from the other Allied forces and had absolutely no intention of telling them anything about it, preferring to wait until the forces of Operation Olympic stormed the shores of Japan to find him sitting in the emperor's palace watching cartoons. It is likely that Japan surrendered not because they were afraid of more atomic bombs from the U.S. but because they were afraid of the Soviets.

So what would have happened if Stalin had managed to plunge his forces into Japan before the war had ended? We'll never know, but based on how it went down with the other disputed territories, it's easy to guess. Stalin would've had a legitimate claim to, if nothing else, split the island in two once the war was over, maybe with a North and South Japan (possibly even a partitioned Tokyo), with a hotly contested border constantly patrolled on either side by varying groups of aggressively non-Japanese people.

We always know that the eternal city of Rome was not built in a day but what if it survived up to the present day? Many scholars have attributed the rise of Christianity to the eventual downfall of the empire from the fall of Rome in 476 AD to the capture of its eastern remnants of Constantinople in 1453.

In a scenario conceptualized by Robert Silverberg in the 2003 novel "Roma Eterna," it seems that the Roman Empire would have expanded unopposed without the influence of the Christian religion. The point of divergence happened when the Israelite exodus from Egypt failed and the pharaoh Ramses II managed to prevent Moses from 'liberating' his own people. It is said that Moses and many of the Israelites drowned at the Red Sea while pursuing Egyptian army killed those left behind. Meanwhile, the remnants led by Aaron were brought back to slavery in Egypt, a traumatic event recorded for posterity in the Book of Aaron, an alternate version of the Bible. Although the Hebrews were freed from bondage later on, they have remained a distinct religious-ethnic minority in Egypt where continued to practice a monotheistic religion.

Although many major events remained almost similar to our historical Roman Empire, it never became Christianized as the religion never came to be. There was rise and fall of empires and although it was divided into the Western and Eastern empire, both have survived barbarian invasions and kept Roman rule intact throughout the imperial dominions.

Over a period of about 1500 years from 1282 ab urbe condita (AD 529) to 2723 AUC (AD 1970), Roman history covered significant events from the 'cold war' between the Western and Eastern Empires to dominate the other to the violent creation of the Second Roman Republic in about 2603 AUC (AD 1850). Other notable events include the first Roman circumnavigation of the world and the unsuccessful attempts to conquer Nova Roma (North America).

Eventually, the surviving Hebrews attempted another exodus to space 4000 years after Moses' failed mission to liberate his people!

UPDATE: I was a little bit busy with the MBA2K17 mod so I wasn't able to continue the simulation right away. I will only post a brief description of the outcome of the succeeding game simulations. My apologies for the delay.

Note: I only posted descriptions without the pictures of the later games as I accidentally deleted the screenshots.

On July 2016, three FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments will be held in Turin in Italy, Belgrade in Serbia and Manila in the Philippines wherein the winners will punch the last tickets to the 2016 Rio Olympics. The Philippines is hoping to make it to the quadrennial games for the first time since 1972. Interestingly, the Philippines last played in Brazil when it placed third in the 1954 FIBA World Championship.

Against all odds, I still have high hopes for Gilas to progress or even have a decent shot to make one upset after the other. But then again, these are just speculations and giving an objective assessment may be difficult so how about test them in a video game simulation and let an unbiased system determine the outcome of the tournament? Let's give it a go!

In this simulation, I did a 10-minute quarter with default settings in order to root out any unfair advantage. Although the mod is based on the NBA 2K14 game, the Philippines will always play as the home team while rest will depend on their assigned team position. The team rosters are not updated and jerseys remain the same as they were during each team's participation in their respective continental tournaments.

Group A: Turkey, Senegal, Canada

July 5, 2016: Turkey vs Canada
One of the more intriguing matchup in the tournament is between the 2010 FIBA World Cup runner up Turkey against the young NBA talent-laden Canada. It would be interesting to see how the likes of Andrew Wiggins and Tristan Thompson play against the taller Turks with Omer Asik and Semih Erden.

The opening minutes of the first quarter was characterized by sloppy plays and turnovers by both sides. It was an uneventful, low-scoring affair with both teams taking too much time before taking buzzer-beating attempts.

The only highlight is the Wiggins follow up slam.

The pace of the game picked up in the second quarter as both teams try to wrestle the lead for good. Timely three point shooting by Cenk Akyol kept the Turks at pace with the Canadians. Despite the spotty shooting percentage by both teams, the Turks eventually took a slim six-point lead at the end of the first half.

The Turks have started to pull away from the game as Asik and Emir Preldzic pounded the middle with easy undergoal shots after the other. Turkey had the largest lead in the game at 40-29 after holding Canada without a field goal for 3 minutes. Kelly Olynyk was held scoreless in the first half and made his first field goal mid-way in the 3rd quarter. Wiggins never gave up and helped fuel a late Canadian comeback to trim the Turkish lead further but Ender Arslan kept the Turkey ahead.

After three quarters of play, Turkey leads 49-43.

With Olynyk having an off night, Brady Heslip picked up the slack and pumped in 8 points to tie the game at 51-all deep into the 4th quarter. With Turkey's main guns gassed out, Canada took advantage and put on the pressure to take the lead and momentum.

Wiggins' monster slam and Heslip's long jumper may have been the final nails in the coffin as Canada snatches a come-from-behind 62-55 win against the highly-favored Turks.

Wiggins finished the game with 17 points 8 rebounds and 3 assists while Arslan pumped in 18 points 4 rebounds and 1 assist on a losing cause.

July 6, 2016: Canada vs Senegal
Minnesota Timberwolves teammates Andrew Wiggins of Canada and Gorgui Dieng of Senegal will finally face off. Although the Canadians have already assured themselves of at least the second seed, they still have to win against the raw yet athletic Senegalese squad.

Despite Canada's flat shooting, Senegal has not taken advantage of the situation. The result is a boring low scoring quarter highlighted by a brick-shooting contest. With Senegal's pesky defense, Canada was limited to a paltry 3 points after 9 minutes of play. All of a sudden, Canada caught fire and scored at will to take the first quarter 14-13.

The low-scoring trend continues as both teams keep making missed shots and uncharacteristically time-pressured attempts. Possessions kept changing without any shot conversion on both ends. Canada still leads 29-28.

Dieng started the 3rd quarter with big boom, a rim-rattling follow-up tomahawk slam. Xane Dalmeida tried to keep Senegal in the game with timely outside sniping.

Canada managed to hold on to the lead at 50-46 after the end of the 3rd quarter.

Antoine Mendy caught fire and helped Senegal catch up just as Canada was about to pull away mid-way into the 4th quarter. Senegal eventually took the lead with just a minute left into the game. Mendy missed two crucial freethrows as Senegal has a precarious one-point lead with seconds left. In a dramatic ending, Senegal holds on to win the game 65-64!

It was Dalmeida who saved the day with 16 points 4 rebounds and 3 assists while Wiggins and Heslip were not able to keep the pace as their 37 combined points went down the drain after a bad shooting night of 13 of 33 from the field.

July 7, 2016: Senegal vs Turkey
In a crucial survival game for Turkey, the team has to beat Senegal by at least 9 points in order to qualify via a +2 quotient. All Senegal has to do is to avoid a 10-point loss to Turkey and they qualify to the semifinals. A win is an outright qualification to the next round and a guaranteed first-seed thereby giving them the opportunity to avoid the stronger team from group B or potentially avoid the host nation in the process.

Turkey massacred the under-strength Senegal team 111-87 to make it into the knockout round.

Group A
1 Turkey211166149+173Semifinals
2 Canada211126120+63
3 Senegal211152175-233

Group B: France, New Zealand, Philippines

July 5, 2016: France vs Philippines
Both teams were rusty and tried getting to know each other early in the game. Although it is their first encounter in official FIBA tournament, the Philippines is hoping to bounce back after their shocking near-upset of the former European champions at the 2014 Antibes Tournament. Andray Blatche is playing his first "home" game together with LA Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson on the lineup. Early on, France capitalized their height and experience to the hilt by taking advantage of mismatch. The Philippines tried to make a comeback after the French raced to an early 14 point lead. After the end of the first quarter, Les Bleus lead 27-21. Tony Parker has 11 points.

Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier waxed hot in the 2nd with three point shots connecting. Tab Baldwin has to call timeout just to prevent France from running away with the game. June Mar Fajardo was lone bright spot with 6 points. Every undergoal stab, layup or putback were not coming in as France swamped the middle with their big guys. Inexplicably absent was Blatche, I wonder what the AI was thinking. Rudy Gobert's entry into the game effectively shut out our interior scoring and other French players kept the lead with timely outside shooting.

A pair of booming slam dunks by Clarkson late in the quarter kept the home crowd hoping for a comeback.

Despite the valiant effort, France remains in cruise control with a 52-39 advantage at the end of the first half.

Halftime stats clearly showed French dominant over the hosts.

With the crowd egging the team to launch a furious comeback, Blatche answered the call and almost single-handedly brought the Philippines back into the game. Jayson Castro entered the fray and helped the team cut the lead to four midway into the third. A Romeo three tied the game at 64 all at the 1:14 mark and followed by a Blatche slam to give the Philippines the lead.

At the end of the quarter, Philippines take the lead powered by Blatche with 21 points and 8 rebounds after a so-so first half.

France is losing steam and nothing seems to go in as the team is falling behind. Finding renewed confidence, the Filipinos were trying to fend off every counter attack from their NBA/Euroleague counterparts. The lead has ballooned to 11 points at the halfway mark of the final quarter. The paint gave way and the Philippines pounded the interior with Fajardo and Slaughter teaming up with Blatche to score at will.

In the end, it was a great come from behind win for Gilas with the final score 93-76. Leading the charge was Andray Blatche who finished with 26 points 14 rebounds 4 assists 4 steals 2 blocks and supported by Jayson Castro who scored all 12 points in the 2nd half. Tony Parker leads the French with 20 points and 6 assists but committing 8 turnovers with a 8/20 field goal shooting.

July 6, 2016: Philippines vs New Zealand
The Philippines is looking to clinch a semifinal berth with a win over New Zealand. This is not the same Kiwi "team" played against in the 2015 William Jones Cup and the 2015 MVP Manila Invitational Tournament.

The first quarter was a foul-plagued affair with New Zealand keeping a small lead against the hosts. Both were trading baskets but turnovers and missed shots were the big difference as New Zealand took the lead 22-19.

Good thing, the Philippines managed to keep the score close due to its 16-10 inside points advantage. Jayson Castro leads all scorers with 7 points.

The highlight of the quarter was Calvin Abueva's gung-ho layup against the hapless Kiwi defenders.

As the second quarter commenced, Terrence Romeo waxed hot to keep the Philippines in the game. He pumped in 8 quick points. Unfortunately, the Kiwis were also on fire on the three-point line and so the lead remains with them. Despite a 30-18 inside scoring advantage, New Zealand remains on the lead at the half with the score 48-42.

Statistics have shown that the Philippines have dominated the rebounding and inside scoring but they couldn't limit New Zealand's three-point shooting and bench points.

With top guard Corey Webster struggling, it was Everard Bartlett who picked up the slack as the Philippines were inching their way on New Zealand's lead. The Philippines managed to cut the lead down to two with a monster dunk by Gabe Norwood.

As both teams go for the final push, the Philippines relied on their home crowd to energize them while New Zealand have tried to silence them. It was a Greg Slaughter jumper that give Gilas its lead at the 10th minute mark.

Thomas Abercrombie also struggled and shut down by the Filipino defenders. With that, the hosts took advantage and slowly but surely wore down the visitors. The game went down the wire as both teams trade baskets, defensive stops and turnovers but it was the timely defensive stops and interior scoring to give the Philippines a come from behind win. New Zealand almost made a buzzer beater shot for the win. The final score 84-82.

The Philippines completely dominated the paint 50-26 on points and 14-7 on offensive rebounds. Blatche and Romeo combined for 28 points with 15 rebounds and 4 assists. Bartlett finished with 15 points on a losing cause.

July 7, 2016: New Zealand vs France
This is a very crucial game for both teams as the winner will get the other semifinal slot against the top team in group A.

France was just too strong and overcame a weak first half to prevail and eliminate the Kiwis down the stretch 101-95.

Group B
1 Philippines220177158+194Semifinals
2 France111177188-113
3 New Zealand102177185-82


July 9, 2016: Turkey vs France

With guns blazing, Turkey jumped to an early 20 point lead in the first half after torrid shooting from all over the arch. But the French clawed back to force the game into overtime where they ran out of steam and the Turks prevailed 112-111.

July 9, 2016: Philippines vs Canada
With the crowd behind its team, the Filipinos fought tooth and nail against the visiting Canadians. Despite its huge height advantage and NBA players on its lineup, the Canadians silence the crowd with timely baskets and relentless defense to force the Philippines to play catch up. Though Andre Blatche and Jayson William waxed hot in the penultimate period, it was the Canadian duo of Andrew Wiggins and Corey Joseph who matched the Filipino duo point for point. They went on to win 95-92 thereby ending Gilas' dream of making it into the Olympics.


July 10, 2016: Turkey vs Canada
The final was an anti-climactic affair as Turkey blow up Canada from the very get go to win on a cakewalk 123-92.

Final Rankings

1st Turkey3-1Qualify to the Olympics
2nd Canada2-2
3rd Philippines2-1
4 France1-2
5 Senegal1-1
6 New Zealand0-2

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{picture#https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-AgIZYN7u_Hg/VZvLmrA0hpI/AAAAAAAARt8/mscbLJ1All4/profile%2Bpic.jpg} JP Canonigo is a historian, professional blogger and copywriter, online content specialist, copywriter, video game junkie, sports fanatic and jack-of-all trades. {facebook#http://www.facebook.com/istoryadista} {twitter#http://www.twitter.com/jpthehistorian} {google#http://plus.google.com/+JPSakuragi}
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