• Gilas Pilipinas to avoid early clash with rated teams in FIBA-Asia championship


    HOST Philippines is expected to use its privilege of picking which of the four groups in the 27th FIBA-Asia Men’s Basketball Championship it wants to join to avoid an early clash with favored teams.

    Gilas Pilipinas will make the  13th pick in the 16-team draw for the groupings Thursday of at Manila Hotel.
    The hosts can avoid being grouped with stronger teams in the elimination round because all 12 slots will be filled up first before it will pick which of the four groups it wants to join.
    The 2013 FIBA-Asia championship will be held Aug. 1 to 11 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City as the main venue, with Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Malate, Manila as secondary venue.

    The top three teams will earn a trip to the FIBA World Championship in Spain next year.
    Federation International Basketball Association (FIBA)-Asia Secretary General Hagop Khajirian of Lebanon will lead the drawing of lots  along with Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) President Manny V. Pangilinan, who will preside the proceedings starting at 1:30 p.m.

    SBP Chairman Oscar Moreno, vice chairman Ricky Vargas, and executive director Sonny Barrios are also joining the rites of distributing equally into four groups teams from
    defending champion China, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei from East Asia; Kazakhstan  from Central Asia; Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines and one nation from Southeast Asia, Iran, Lebanon and Jordan from West Asia and a nation from South Asia.
    Barrios said that Hagop will pick from a box containing four small balls representing the four groups and from another with 15 balls representing the countries outside the host.
    “This is really a privilege given to the host country. We will be picking 13th. So, we can see first the first 12 teams of the four groups before we will choose which of them to join in,” said Barrios.
    Gilas Pilipinas is training in Lithuania, but head coach Chot Reyes will be calling to indicate his choice.  If Reyes can’t call in, coaches Ryan Gregorio, Norman Black and Nash Racela will pick the group for the national team.
    Gilas Pilipinas do not want an early clash against rated teams like China, Iran, Jordan or South Korea in the elimination round.
    Highlighting the drawing of lots is a tribute to the 1973 Philippine National quintet led by team captain Jimmy Mariano, Robert Jaworski, Ramon Fernandez, Big Boy Reynoso, Manny Paner and Yoyong Martirez, who won the Asian basketball crown for the country for the last time. FRANK CALAPRE



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