By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
THE Philippine national men’s basketball team remained at number 31 in the latest International Basketball Federation (FIBA) world rankings.
Released late Monday night, the rankings showed Gilas Pilipinas holding the same position it had in the last update in December. It also maintained its hold on the number six spot in the Asia and Oceania region.
The Philippine team did not get the chance to improve on its ranking after its scheduled matches in the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers last month was deferred to a later date over coronavirus-related concerns.
Gilas Pilipinas was already in the thick of its preparation for the window, going in a training “bubble” at the INSPIRE Sports Academy in Laguna, when the event originally set for Feb. 18 to 22 here was canceled because of the new strains of the coronavirus and the heightened restrictions that came after.
Qatar then stepped in as host of the competition, but later on decided to cancel as well over rising cases of the coronavirus there.
The team, however, will still get to see action in the window with hosting duties given back to the Philippines. Matches are expected to take place in the coming months.
Gilas, too, is set to action in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in the middle of this year. The surprise OQT inclusion came after New Zealand withdrew from the competition.
To prepare for its upcoming matches, Gilas is preparing to start training as soon as possible in another bubble setup.
Meanwhile, in Asia and Oceania, the country is ranked sixth, behind Australia (3), Iran (23), New Zealand (25), China (29), and Korea (30).
The United States is still the number one-ranked team in the world, followed by Spain and Australia. Argentina and Serbia complete the top five.
Greece jumped over France for number six with Lithuania at eighth and Russia and Italy rounding out the top 10.
Brazil, which was in the top 10 in the previous update, slid to number 11 after its two games in the third window of the FIBA Continental Cup Qualifiers were postponed.
Mozambique and Bahrain were top climbers in the rankings, advancing six places to number 90 and 101, respectively.
The biggest drop in the world rankings, meanwhile, was suffered by Sri Lanka, which dropped 11 places to 134.
Also experiencing drops were Jamaica, eight spots down to 96, and Madagascar (128) and Equatorial Guinea (138), which slid four spots each.