COACHES of China, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Iran and host Philippines said that they see equal chances of winning in the 27th edition of the FIBA-Asia men’s basketball championship set to start on Thursday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
A significant highlight of the event was the Iranian team’s declaration to postpone the fasting for the Ramadan until after the 11-day tournament is over.
“We have to postpone our fasting to be able to put up a good game in the tournament,” said Iran’s team manager Hassan Nourbakhsh.
Iranian head coach Mehmed Becirovic of Slovenia also forecasted an equal winning opportunity for all the squads despite the presence of powerhouse China, “All participants are strong teams. Anyone can beat anybody in this tournament. But what is important for us is the quarterfinal round,” said Becirovic.
China head coach Panagiotis Giannakis likewise said that it’s going to be tough and that they are looking forward to an exciting competition.
“It’s tough but we gonna make it to the championship,” said Giannakis during Tuesday’s press conference at the Mall of Asia Arena lobby. He predicted Iran making it into the finals.
Giannakis, a Greek, also confirmed changes in their line-up during the managers meeting on Tuesday at the Dusit Hotel in Makati City. He said that recent injuries forced them to remove three players. Among those included in the revised lineup is veteran 7’1, Wang Zhi Zhi, who played with the Dallas Mavericks (2001-2002), the Los Angeles Clippers (2002-2003) and the Miami Heat (2003-2005).
Meanwhile, Chot Reyes expressed total confidence on the Philippine team, “The extent of the task is very difficult. All teams possessed good players and coaches. Maybe we don’t have the size and height but we have the skills, the heart and the crowd,” said Reyes.
Of the 15 participating teams, China is ranked no. 11 in the world, Iran no. 20, Jordan no. 30, Korea no. 33, the Philippines no. 45 and Kazakhstan no. 47.