Can Gilas still qualify for the last 16?
If there’s one thing that the last three days have made perfectly clear to anyone who has watched Gilas Pilipinas play, it is that these guys belong in this World Cup. For further proof, we have lost the three games against teams ranked 3rd, 5th, and 16th in world by an average of six(!) points.
There might not be another team out there that has been as close to winning as Gilas has been, and yet we find ourselves still winless. Our fellow Asian qualifiers? Iran has lost by 30, 13, 29 and South Korea by 34 and 11.
So after three three heartbreaking losses, where does Gilas stand?
We still have a chance, but we’ll need some help.
As things are now, Argentina, Croatia, and Senegal all have 2-1 (wins-losses) records.
First things first, the Philippines must win the last two games — there’s no other way around that. This assumption applies in all scenarios.
From there, things get interesting.
Our fate isn’t entirely in our hands anymore. Even winning the last two games won’t be enough if we end up having an identical record to a team we lost to, because ties are settled first based on head-to-head record. What that means is we’ll need Argentina to beat Senegal.
In this scenario, the Philippines and Senegal will end at 2-3, but Gilas advances based on the assumption that we beat them in our last match.
This one is really stretching things, but still possible. Croatia loses it’s next two games against Greece and Puerto Rico and finishes with a 2-3 record. Senegal loses against both Argentina and the Philippines, and also finishes at 2-3. The Philippines wins its last two games against Senegal and Puerto Rico, and is at 2-3 as well.
It becomes a three-way tie where all three teams have beaten each other. The head-to-head tiebreaker doesn’t work because Senegal beat Croatia, but Croatia beat the Philippines, and the Philippines beat Senegal.
The second tiebreaker that comes into play is what FIBA calls “goals average” which is the number of points scored by a team divided by the number of points it gave up. Only the scores in the games between the tied teams count. Highest goal average advances to the last 16. For a similar scenario, you can check out this story by John Schuhmann of NBA.com during the 2010 World Championships.
Here are the corresponding results and goal averages for the three teams in this scenario:
Croatia 75, Senegal 77
Croatia 81, Philippines 78
156/155 = 1.006 Croatia goal average
Senegal 77, Croatia 75
Senegal xx, Philippines xx
77/75 = 1.027 Senegal goal average (not including final game against Philippines)
Philippines 78, Croatia 81
Philippines xx, Senegal xx
78/81 = 0.963 Philippines goal average (not including final game against Senegal)
In this scenario, the Philippines will not only need to win against Senegal, but must win by enough points to push it’s goal average over Senegal and Croatia. Something along the lines of a five-point win over Senegal will give Gilas a 1.012 goal average, just barely above Croatia, but these numbers adjust slightly based on the total number of points scored. Win by four, and it’s even closer (we’re talking thousandths decimal places, and even how FIBA does its rounding of numbers).
All other scenarios
Even if Argentina and Croatia were to lose their next two games and the Philippines won the last two, Gilas still would not qualify because we would be tied with them, but we lost both games against those countries.
It’s a lot to process, but the bottom line is there is still hope… as long as Argentina beats Senegal tomorrow.