• Thirdy Ravena and Dwight Ramos were the Philippines' bright spots during the February window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers
  • Their loss to New Zealand exposed the problems withholding the team from international success
  • Switching coaches at the last minute created problems for the Philippines

The Philippines already has a spot reserved in the 2023 FIBA World Cup as they are one of three host countries, but the national team wants to see where they currently stand amongst their regional peers.

Here are three of the biggest takeaways from the Philippines’ performance in the most recent FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers this past weekend.

Thirdy Ravena and Dwight Ramos are the program’s future

Young standouts Thirdy Ravena and Dwight Ramos were the standard-bearers for the Philippines during the recently-concluded window.

Ravena is seen by most local journalists and fans as the team’s No. 1 guy moving forward thanks to his nearly two-year stint in Japan’s B. League that has pushed his level of understanding for the game to a higher level.

He averaged 19 points on 46.9 percent shooting from the field, three boards, 3.5 assists and three steals over the two-game window.

Ramos followed Ravena to Japan a year after, and the pair have benefitted greatly from playing basketball overseas as the fruits of their labor became apparent during this window.

The 23-year-old had a strong showing himself with 17.5 points, seven rebounds, two steals, and 1.5 blocks.

The pair were the lone bright spots in their 88-63 drubbing at the hands of New Zealand this past Sunday, February 27 with Ravena scoring a team-high 23 points and Ramos having an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double.

It is no coincidence that the Philippines’ best performers during this window were the two players who have been playing in Japan, with Ravena being the first-ever player to be signed under the league’s Asian Player Quotas system back in 2020.

Ravena and Ramos’ performance during the February window will surely net them a spot in future international competitions as the Philippines hopes to become a major player in the world scene once again.

Dwight Ramos, Philippines
Dwight Ramos #24 of the Philippines shoots over New Zealand's Ethan Rusbatch #25 during the February window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers on February 27, 2022. FIBA

Disaster against New Zealand exposes major problems

The Philippines’ disastrous performance against New Zealand exposed many of the problems that have been plaguing the national team in recent years.

New Zealand imposed its will on the Filipinos early on during the game as their combination of physicality and well-rounded style of play forced the island nation to keep searching for an answer on both ends of the ball.

Shooting guard Dion Prewster and power forward Tom Vodanovich were the main problem for the Philippine team as they combined for 40 of New Zealand’s 88 points.

When the final whistle blew, the New Zealanders had the advantage in nearly every category, aside from points generated from turnovers, as the Philippines failed to make any meaningful adjustments.

To their credit, the Filipinos were able to keep in step for much of the first half, but a disastrous stretch to close out the third quarter blew the game wide open for the New Zealanders.

The effort was not a problem for the Filipinos during this game as they had tons of it, but it was the general lack of game planning and communication throughout the team that spelled disaster for them.

It would have been interesting to see how their current lineup would fare against Asian rival South Korea, but they pulled out of the February window as their team dealt with players testing positive for COVID-19.

Thirdy Ravena, New Zealand
Thirdy Ravena #0 of the Philippines prepares to take his free throws against New Zealand in the February window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers on February 27, 2022. FIBA

Last-Minute coaching change may have affected overall performance

The loss to New Zealand was a warning about why changing coaches at the last minute is never a great idea.

It was announced earlier in February that former Philippine men’s basketball team head coach Tab Baldwin would be stepping down to return to coaching his local collegiate team, Ateneo de Manila University, to another championship.

Local sports personality Bill Velasco wonderfully explained the loss of Baldwin as the men’s national team coach and everything that he had done for the program.

Vincent "Chot" Reyes, a longtime coach of the national team, returned to take the reins after Baldwin’s departure and was tasked with leading them to a successful outing during this window.

A victory against India was expected as the Philippines had the talent to overwhelm them, but his team’s lackluster performance against New Zealand was a major sticking point with fans watching live at the iconic Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Philippines.

Following the home-court loss to New Zealand, the 58-year-old coach of the national team revealed that he was expecting to be criticized by the fans ever since he took over for Baldwin.

Al Panlilio, the president of the country’s national sports association for basketball, also said on Friday, February 25 that he would reach out to both Baldwin and Reyes to discuss the future of the team.

The Philippines will have about three months to sort out all of the issues as they prepare for the next window, where they face India again on June 30.

Vincent "Chot" Reyes
Vincent "Chot" Reyes, head coach of the Philippine men's basketball team, sends signals to his players against New Zealand in the February window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers on February 27, 2022. FIBA