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History Lesson: The Philippine team's record in the FIBA world tournament


Before being rechristened the Basketball World Cup, international body FIBA's top competition was known as the World Championship. 
 
On Saturday, the national team will return to the tournament for the first time in 36 years, when Gilas Pilipinas takes the court against Croatia.
 
Despite the prolonged absence, it's a tournament where the Philippines has a rich history, having competed in the tournament four times, and winning a medal once. Here's a look back at the Philippines' previous stints in the basketball world stage.
 
1954 FIBA World Championship
 
The national team posted its highest achievement in the tournament during the 1954 FIBA World Championship held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The squad led by basketball legend Caloy Loyzaga bagged the bronze medal that year after winning six out of nine games.
 
The country defeated Paraguay, Israel, Formosa, Canada, France, and Uruguay, bowing only to eventual gold and silver medalists USA and Brazil.
 
Loyzaga led the team in scoring with 16.4 points per game, including a 31-point performance against Uruguay in the final round. Lauro "The Fox" Mumar also chipped in 9.9 points per game and a solid 24-point output against Canada.
 
Loyzaga, who was nicknamed "The Big Difference," ranked fourth among the top scorers of the tournament. He also landed a spot in the mythical five with USA's Kirby Minter, Uruguay's Oscar Moglia, and Brazil's Zenny de Azevedo and Wlamir Marques.
 
The bronze medal finish is the strongest performance by an Asian country in the tournament. With the feat, the team also booked a ticket to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, finishing seventh.
 
1959 FIBA World Championship
 
In the 1959 FIBA World Championship held in Chile, the national team opened its campaign with a victory against Uruguay but dropped its next two games to Bulgaria and Puerto Rico.
 
The Philippines then swept its classification matches against United Arab Republic, Canada, and Uruguay to settle for eighth place.
 
Loreto Carbonell carried the Olympian-laden team with 15.3 points per game, good enough to rank eighth among the tournament's top scorers. Constancio Ortiz was also a solid contributor with 14.3 points per game, while Loyzaga and Carlos Badion added 11.5 and 11.2 points per game, respectively.
 
Despite the eighth-place finish, the Philippines was actually fifth in terms of scoring with 69.2 points per game, behind powerhouses Brazil, Soviet Union, Formosa, and USA.
 
1974 FIBA World Championship
 
The Philippines finished the group stage of the 1974 FIBA World Championship held in Puerto Rico without a single victory, yielding against USA, Argentina, and Spain.
 
The national team also dropped their classification matches against Mexico and Czechoslovakia, only avoiding a last place finish with a close 101-100 win against Australia and 87-76 against Central African Republic.
 
William "Bogs" Adornado, who would later become a superstar at Crispa in the PBA, led the squad with 18 points per game to place 10th among the tournament's top scorers. Basketball great Robert Jaworski also contributed 14.3 points per game.
 
Like in 1959, the Philippines was among the top scoring teams in the tournament. The squad was ranked fifth, scoring 92 points per game behind USA, Argentina, Soviet Union, and Czechoslovakia.
 
1978 FIBA World Championship
 
The national team failed to win a single game in its last appearance in the FIBA World Championship in 1978, when the tournament was held in Manila.  As the host, the Philippines entered the tournament in the semifinal round, but lost all its matches by huge margins.
 
In the battle for seventh place, the squad lost 74-92 to Australia to finish eighth.
 
MAN Diesel's Ramon Cruz led the team with 16.8 points per game, while Ateneo star Steve Watson and Crispa's Joy Carpio added 11.2 and 10.4 points per game, respectively.
 
In 1986, the Philippines qualified for the World Championship, but did not play because of political turmoil in the country. — JST, GMA News
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