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Travel time big issue for Gilas

MANILA, Philippines — It’s not just limited practice time that worries Gilas team manager Butch Antonio but also the recovery from a long flight to play two days after touchdown. The Philippines’ first game in the second window of the Asia/Pacific qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA World Cup will be against Australia at the Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne on Feb. 22.

Gilas will fly back to Manila from Melbourne on Feb. 23 then battles Japan at home on Feb. 25. The flight from Melbourne to Manila is 8 1/2 hours long. In the third window, the Philippines plays Chinese-Taipei on the road on June 29 then hosts Australia on July 2. Flight time from Taipei to Manila is about two hours so recovery won’t be an issue.

Gilas Pilipinas celebrates after winning over China in the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup in Beirut, Lebanon Wednesday night. FIBA.com
Antonio said travel becomes a more serious issue if and when the Philippines makes it to the second round where the top three finishers from Groups B and D converge for three home-and-away windows. Based on the first window results, the standings in Group B are Australia and the Philippines tied on top at 2-0, Japan third and Chinese-Taipei fourth. In Group D, Kazakhstan is first, Iraq and Iran tied for second at 1-1 and Qatar fourth.

Assuming the Groups B and D standings hold until the end of the first round, here is Gilas’ schedule for the second round – Kazakhstan on the road on Sept. 13, Iran at home on Sept. 16, Iraq on the road on Nov. 30, Kazakhstan at home on Dec. 3, Iran on the road on Feb. 21 and Iraq at home on Feb. 24. In the first round, Iraq played its home game in Amman, Jordan, for security reasons.

The flight time from Manila to Almaty, Kazakhstan, is nearly 18 hours. It’s 13 hours to Amman and close to 11 hours to Tehran.  In the hypothetical schedule, Gilas will take an 18-hour flight from Kazakhstan to Manila on Sept. 14 then play Iran at home on Sept. 16.

Author: Joaquin Henson, Philippine Star
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