Uphill climb for PH 5

Bandera (Mindanao) - - NEWS -

IT will be an uphill climb for the Philippine men’s basketball team in the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta/Palembang, Indonesia slated to start this week.

The Filipinos are in Group D of the four-group preliminary phase of the 14-team competitions with only three teams in participation following the 11th-hour withdrawal of Palestine.

Group B also only has three entries. The other two preliminary groups have four teams each.

In Group A are South Korea, Mongolia, host Indonesia and Thailand.

In Group B are the Islamic Republic of Iran, Syria and the United Arab Emirates.

Japan, Qatar, ChineseTaipei and Hong Kong make up Group C.

Joining the Philippines in Group D are the People’s Republic of China and Kazakhstan. The top two teams in each of the four groups will qualify for the eight-team quarterfinals with a knockout format.

The Philippines plays Kazakhstan on Thursday, August 16. It clashes with perennial power China on Tuesday, August 21. Our boys need to win over either team to make it to the Round of 8 (knockout quarterfinals).

Should our boys top Group D, they would meet the Group A second-placer (possibly Mongolia) in the quarterfinals with a single-elimination format on Monday, August 27. If the country lands second in Group D, it will face the Group A topnotcher (possibly South Korea).

The semifinals will be held on Friday, August 31. The gold-medal and bronze-medal games will be on Saturday, September 1, at the Istora Gelora Bung Karno Arena.

South Korea is the defending champion in the men’s basketball tournament, having edged the Islamic Republic of Iran, 79-77, in the gold-medal game between two unbeaten squads during the 2014 Asiad in Incheon, South Korea.

The Koreans finished with a lily-white 7-0 record while the Iranians posted a 6-1 mark.

Japan (4-3) beat Kazakhstan (4-6), 76-72, in the bronze-medal contest.

China (5-2) downed Qatar (4-3), 70-60, to claim fifth place.

The Philippines (3-4) defeated Mongolia (3-7), 84-68, to settle for seventh place.

Australia and New Zealand, which before now campaigned in the FIBA Oceania continent, were to face each other last night in the finals of the 25th FIBA Under-18 Asian Championship in Thailand following semifinal victories over the Philippines and People’s Republic of China, respectively, Friday night.

The Boomers clobbered the young Filipinos, 77-43, while the Tall Blacks defeated the Chinese, 87-82. New Zealand had earlier dethroned the Islamic Republic of Iran with an 87-72 success during the knockout quarterfinals. (The Iranians had beaten Japan, 7165, in the 2016 finals.)

The Philippines and China clashed for the bronze medal yesterday and the Chinese exacted revenge against the Filipino cagers, 76-57. During the preliminary round, the Filipinos beat the Chinese, 73-63, as the PH topped its group following earlier victories over Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates.

The young Filipinos, who tote a 4-2 overall record, are bannered by Twin Towers Ariel John Edu (14.2 ppg, 12.2 rpg, 3.2 blocks) and Kai Zachary Sotto (12.0 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.6 blocks and 1.4 assists), who have combined for 26.2 points, 21.0 rebounds and 4.8 blocked shots in five appearances.

The third double-figure scorer is Sean Dave Ildefonso, who is hitting at a 10-point clip along with 3.6 boards and 1.8 assists every timeout.

Rome-based playmaker Dalph Aden Panopio is averaging 7.8 scores, 1.4 steals and a team-best 4.4 assists an outing.

Regardless of the results of the gold-medal and bronzemedal games, all four teams have earned tickets to next year’s FIBA Under-19 Basketball World Cup, where Canada is the defending titlist following its 79-60 finals’ conquest of Italy in Cairo, Egypt in 2017.

The Philippines, which improved its seventh-place performance in the Under-18 Asian event in Tehran, Iran two years ago, secured a 2019 World Cup berth after blasting Bahrain, 67-52, in the quarterfinal playoffs.

This will mark the second time that the country will see action in the FIBA Under-19 World Cup. During the inaugural edition in 1979 in Salvador, Brazil, the Philippines finished 10th in the event won by the United States. The host country placed second.

The Americans own the most Under-19 WC titles with six. Seven other countries, including reigning champion Canada, have a single crown each.

The FIBA Under-19 competitions debuted in 1979 and were held every four years until 2007. Since 2007, they have been staged biennially.

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