Samante: Do or die

Game On!

THE countdown to Team Pilipinas last qualifying window games for the Fiba World Championships has started and tomorrow will be the start of their last stand to qualify again.

They will face off against a Qatar team they beat (92-81) last September in Manila and on the 24th they face the Kazakhstan in Turkey who defeated them (92-88) last November during the third qualifier window. With a win-loss record of 5-5 these last two games are a must win for Team Pilipinas to qualify for the World Championships.

They are still in contention for third place in Group F if they sweep the last two games and Japan loses one of its games. They will end up with similar 7-5 win loss records but the early sweep of Team Pilipinas of their games against Japan will place them third. If Japan also sweeps their last two games, Team Pilipinas slides to fourth and will lose control of their destiny to qualify, putting that destiny into the fate of the other teams' win-loss records.

The best case scenario for Team Pilipinas is a sweep and a split for Japan. Worst case would be losing to Kazakhstan on February 24, a loss would mean elimination for the team.

What is the head to head for Qatar-Philippines match up? In their first meeting, Team Pilipinas dominated almost all aspects of the game with their 50 percent two-point field goal shooting and 67 percent clip from the foul line compared to Qatar’s 46.3 percent and 57.5 percent in both areas. If Team Pilipinas plays the way they did during their first encounter, this game would be a breeze.

A slight cause for concern would be the Kazakhstan upset last November 30, 2018. Based on the stats, we played well getting almost the same percentages in terms of field goals and free throws made, although the Kazakhstan team had a better free throw shooting clip at 73.8 percent compared to our 67 percent, we still dominated the other aspects of the game. This game is a reminder that Team Pilipinas needs to keep on playing the same level of intensity and aggressiveness until the final buzzer.

With the team pressed to win its last two games, we along with the millions of basketball crazy Filipinos around the world wait in anticipation for the outcome of these games along with Japan’s campaign. (yoxx.sam@gmail.com)


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