The Philippines secured one of the biggest wins in recent history by defeating Korea 86-79 in the semifinals of the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship.
Thanks to their stellar performance throughout the tournament, they have officially qualified for the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain. It will be their first appearance in a World Cup since 1978. The team tweeted out the news:
Gilas Pilipinas defeats South Korea! We are going to Spain in 2014! #fibaworldcup— Gilas Pilipinas (@smartgilasph) August 10, 2013
Gilas is now 7-1 in the tournament with the one loss coming against Taiwan in the preliminary rounds.
The work isn't over yet, though. They still have the opportunity to claim their first Asia Championship since 1985 against Iran and must work to improve if they want to have success when they get to the world stage.
Here were the key takeaways from the monumental win from the Philippines as they look to take the next step.
Marcus Douthit Will Likely Be a Non-Factor in Championship Game
First, the bad news.
It's looking like Marcus Douthit will be a non-factor against the undefeated Iranians.
The 6'11" center has carried this team through the tournament for stretches. His defensive presence allows them to take risks on the perimeter defensively. He also leads the team in points (11.9 per game) and rebounding (9.4 per game).
Unfortunately, the calf injury that has hobbled him for much of the tournament let him play just 13 minutes against Korea. As the team tweeted out, his status for the finals against Iran is very much in the air.
Marcus Douthit may not be able to play tomorrow, who will guard Hamed Haddadi? 27th FIBA Asia Championship... http://t.co/cquia0TeuJ— Gilas Pilipinas (@smartgilasph) August 10, 2013
Considering the strong play of Iran's Hamed Haddadi, who is averaging 17.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, this is a big blow.
Jean Marc Pingris Will Need to Step Up Again
With Douthit unable to play major minutes, Gilas needed someone to step up. Fortunately, 6'4" forward Jean Marc Pingris did just that as he registered a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The fiery forward is usually known for his defensive prowess in the PBA, but he went 7-of-8 from the field and showed that he could carry the team offensively when called upon. His previous high point total was eight against Saudi Arabia.
Replacing Douthit is going to be difficult on both ends of the floor. But if Pingris is able to put together numbers like that Gilas could be in a position to pull off the upset in the finals.
The Home-Court Advantage is Real
Iran may be the favorite to win on paper. They have yet to lose a game in the tournament and are winning by an average score of 87-52.
But the Goliath certainly can't afford to overlook David here. Gilas is happy to be playing in front of a home crowd as the host nation and won't go down without a fight.
As coach Chot Reyes told the Philippine Star after the game, his team is all about heart, “We just kept fighting, the players just won’t give up. They have to carry us out of the court.”
Now that his squad is just one step away form realizing the dream of winning the championship, he thinks we'll see the exact same effort that got them here. "The objective is to land a medal and the dream is to win the championship. Now, the dream is at hand. We’re definitely going out for our dream tomorrow (Sunday) night. Again as I said, they have to carry us out of the court."
With Douthit likely out, the Philippines team will have to rely on forcing turnovers and making the right plays down the stretch. That's going to take focus and hustle, but it appears as though they are up to the challenge.
They've only turned the ball over 10.3 times per game while forcing 3.6 steals. They'll have to do even better to pull off the upset Sunday.
Statistics in this article via FIBA.com unless otherwise noted.