Time to see if we still have a place in the basketball firmament or if we’ve been deluding ourselves all these years that we got game.
The Jones Cup and Four-Nations Invitationals are nice, but the Promised Land is in Beijing. And the road there officially begins in Tokushima. The 2007 FIBA Asian Championship will be held in Japan and sixteen teams from across the FIBA Asia region will qualify for the event through their various sub-regional competitions. The winners of the 2007 championship will qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Basketball Tournament.
The FIBA Asian Championship is held every two years and this competition is the premier Asian basketball event for men’s national teams. And our souped-up Men’s National squad, Team Pilipinas is all pumped up for this.
Team Pilipinas will be bannered by Mark Caguiao, Asi Taulava, Jimmy Alapag, Mick Pennisi, Dondon Hontiveros, Ranidel de Ocampo, Gabe Norwood, Kerby Raymundo, Jayjay Helterbrand, Ren Ren Ritualo, Tony de la Cruz, Kelly Williams, Nino Canaleta, James Yap, and Eric Menk. Rommel Adducul and Enrico Villanueva are on the reserve list while Rafi Reavis and Danny Seigle are convalescing.
Chot Reyes will be coaching the team and will be assisted by Aboy Castro and Nash Racela.
The Philippines is bracketed in a tough group and will be facing higher seeded teams. Included in our division is current FIBA Asian Champion China ranked #11 in the world. Lebanon, silver medalist in the 2001 and 2005 competitions and pegged the 25th best team in the world, will once more be led by Fadi El-Khatib. Meanwhile, Frederick Femi Onica’s stratospheric Islamic Republic of Iran squad, ranked at #37 will be a tough unit to deal with despite their not being expected to move on in the competition.
As host of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China gets an automatic slot in the Olympics. In the event China places 2nd, 3rd, 4th or worse, they will still quality alongside the champion of the tournament. The finalist and 3rd placer then qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Qualifier.
The current FIBA Asia champions are the Yao Ming-led China who retained their title in the recent 2005 FIBA Asia Championship that took place in Doha, Qatar. China defeated Lebanon in the final with Qatar beating Korea for the bronze medal.
Basketball TV and RPN 9 will be televising Team Pilipinas’ games.
Schedule of games:
Iran vs. RP July 28 Live 5pm on RPN 9 then 7pm BTV
China vs. RP July 29 Live 5pm on RPN 9 then 7pm BTV
Jordan vs. RP July 30 Live 7pm on RPN 9 then 9pm BTV
Teams to be determined
Semi-final 1 August 4 7pm
Semi-final 2 August 4 9pm
Third Place August 5 7pm
Finals August 5 9pm