Whenever the World Cup rolls around, Pinoy football fans get reminded of the painful fact that we are woefully behind the rest of Asia when it comes to the beautiful game—we're talking being decades behind the development of our peers. Sure, the Azkals are now somewhat competitive in the SEA region, but anything beyond that we're in for a beatdown—and then butthurt Pinoys will come in and go "basketball na lang!" because crab mentality:
Here's a long and short version of our compelling argument
So, are we actually that much better than other Asians at basketball? Or is this misguided Pinoy Pride? Let's compare ourselves to a proper footballing benchmark: the five countries who qualified for the 2018 World Cup: Iran, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and Saudi Arabia. Barring the Saudis, the dominance of the other four over us in football is easily proven by the fact that they have appeared in the WC finals several times and we haven't gotten anywhere close. And here's how we stack up against them on court:
The boys from Down Under took the crown in their regional debut in the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup, where we could only limp to a lowly 7th place. We didn't actually meet their squad in that tourney, so could we have taken them on despite the fact they mangled our rivals, Iran, 79-56? Nah fam, the Aussies handed us a sobering 84-68 loss in our recent 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifier match. Now that the Boomers will be playing ball with us Asians, expect more NBA-powered drubbings of our squad soon.
If you look at historical medal totals, we edge out the Iranians with 10 to their 5 in the FIBA Asia Cup, and 9 to their 6 in the Jones Cup. However, if you look at the stats beginning from the year 2000 (aka the modern times), we've been on a downward slide ever since. Iran has won three golds in the FIBA Asia Cup since then, while the best we could do was a pair of 2nd place finishes (you might remember Iran's gold from 2013 at our expense in particular). Meanwhile they have 5 recent championships compared to our double in the Jones Cup. It's a close fight where we can't definitely say we're superior. Not anymore.
50-50: South Korea
South Korea isn't known for their basketball prowess, but they give us a good challenge and are respectable contenders in the region. Last year saw them place 3rd in the Jones and FIBA cups, while we slipped to 4th and 7th respectively. Go back to the previous editions and the finishing order is flipped the other way around. We give them an 86-65, they hit back with a 118-86—the Koreans are not a matchup to take for granted.
It's in the bag: Japan, Saudi Arabia
We are actually better than the Japanese at something aside from making babies! We consistently finish higher than Japan and haven't lost to them in quite a while. Saudi is just here because they're in the World Cup, and is easy pickings for our squad. On the other hand, they can probably think "football na lang!" and be confident in tearing us apart though.
So, we do have some pride to cling to, good job. But with bonehead moves like racism against Fil-foreigners still a sad reality in our leagues, we have to be careful not to slip up any further.