By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE Philippine national men’s basketball team will open its FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers campaign later this year in Group A following the official draw in India at the weekend.
Held in Bengaluru on Saturday night and attended by FIBA officials and noted Asian basketball personalities, the grouping of the 24 participating nations which will battle it out in the six-window and home-and-away matches was known.
The Philippines, ranked 31 in the world and fourth in Asia, is in Group A along with South Korea (32nd), Indonesia (85th) and Thailand (102nd).
The tournament windows begin in November this year, followed in February and November 2020.
Teams which finish in the top two in each of the six groupings directly advance to the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup with the third-place teams advancing to the second round of the qualifiers.
In other groups are Chinese-Taipei, Japan, Malaysia and China (Group B); Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Guam (Group C); Bahrain, Lebanon, India and Iraq (Group D); Saudi Arabia, Syria, Qatar and Iran (Group E) and Jordan, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka and Palestine (Group F).
The Philippines will first take part in the FIBA Basketball World Cup in China in September before plunging into action in the Asia Cup qualifiers.
Present during the FIBA Asia Cup draw were FIBA President Horacio Muratore, FIBA Secretary-General Andreas Zagklis, FIBA Asia President Sheikh Saud Ali Al Thani, FIBA Executive Director for Asia Hagop Khajirian, the governor of Bengaluru, and several representatives from the participating nations.
They were joined by members of FIBA’s Executive Committee and Central Board, as well as by high-ranking officials from the Local Organizing Committee (LOC).
Also there were Asia hoops legends Jimmy Alapag of the Philippines and Asami Yoshida of Japan.
FIBA U-18 WOMEN’S 3X3
Meanwhile, the impressive run of the Philippine Under-18 women’s 3×3 team in the FIBA 3×3 World Cup in Mongolia came to a halt in the quarterfinals on the final day of the competition on Friday.
Faced world number one China in the quarterfinals, the Philippines could not go over the hump, bowing, 21-12.
Fell behind early, the Filipina players, namely Camille Izabel Clarin (18), Ella Patrice Fajardo (16), Karl Ann Pingol (17) and Angelica Marie Surada (18), tried to catch up but just could not take it all the way against the hot-shooting Chinese team en route to slumping to the defeat.
Despite falling short, the team was lauded for its efforts that saw it exceeding expectations given its limited time together to prepare.
The United States eventually won the U-18 women’s 3×3 title after beating New Zealand in the finals.
The quarterfinal finish of the Philippine U-18 women’s 3×3 team duplicated the feat of the seniors team in the FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup last month.