By JONAS TERRADO
Gilas Pilipinas made its way home Tuesday morning amid little fanfare and plenty to ponder after finishing dead last in the FIBA World Cup in China.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas Executive Director Sonny Barrios greeted the team immediately after the group led by coach Yeng Guiao completed immigration process at the Terminal 1 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
While Gilas was all smiles during a photo opportunity with Barrios, there’s also a sense of deep reflection of what lies ahead in the next few months for the national cagers.
Guiao is bracing for the possibility of relinquishing his duties as Gilas coach after a combined margin of 105 points in losses to Italy and Serbia, a heartbreaking overtime defeat to Angola and classification round defeats to Tunisia and Iran.
A meeting with top SBP officials led by President Al Panlilio has been set, and Guiao repeatedly stated that he is ready to assume full responsibility for the woeful showing.
Focus is now on the Southeast Asian Games which the country will host in November, though it remains to be seen if the keys will be handed to the NLEX mentor.
Meanwhile, Gilas’ chances of making the Olympic Qualifying Tournament next year is doubtful as its World Cup showing may play an outcome in whether the Philippines can get a wild slot.
Two wild card berths are allotted for the two best Asian teams that failed to make the Tokyo Olympics and the OQT in the FIBA World Rankings that will be released after the World Cup.
The Philippines entered the World Cup ranked 31st, four below Iran, one behind China and one above South Korea.
Gilas made it to the OQT in 2016 after a runner-up finish in the FIBA Asia Championship, but lost all two group matches against the Tony Parker-led France and New Zealand.