FIBA Asia Championships Group Draw: Philippines looks to dominate Group B

    MANILA, Philippines – The FIBA Asia Championships Committee on Saturday, June 27 has already drawn and finalized the groupings for this year’s regional tournament to be held this coming September in Hunan, China.

    Gabe Norwood in his iconic poster dunk on Luis Scola
    Gabe Norwood in his iconic poster dunk on Luis Scola
    Our very own Gilas Pilipinas under the guidance of American Coach Tab Baldwin landed in the lightest Group B along with Kuwait, Palestine and another East Asia team – either Hongkong or Mongolia.

    2013 Asian Champions Iran is in Group A together with Japan, India and Southeast Asian neighbor Malaysia. Iran will most likely top its group.

    Host China will play against Philippines’ arch-rival South Korea, Jordan and Singapore.

    Group D, which is highly regarded as the “Group of Death” will be tough to call as per basketball pundits. Dark Horse Taiwan will muscle its way up against Lebanon, Qatar and Kazakhstan.

    A chance to upgrade Philippines’ “Golden Silver”.

    In 2013, Philippines hosted the FIBA World Qualifiers where Gilas, headed by Chot Reyes fell short in the hands of NBA Veteran Hamed Haddadi, Mehdi Kamrani, Nikkah Barahmi and the rest of Iran Men’s National Basketball Team. Philippines finished the event with Silver Medal.

    Philippines proved to the world that we are a very competitive team and a squad which not to be taken lightly. We almost beat every team in our bracket, all were close games.

    Gilas Pilipinas will be highly favored to win Group B and will easily move up to the cross-over quarter finals and will likely face the traditional Asian powerhouses like South Korea, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar and Iran.

    Short preparation, a problem.

    We’re just couple of months away from the tournament and PBA is still having its conference playoffs as of press time. This will be a major problem for Coach Tab Baldwin. He’ll have a tough time assembling Gilas Pilipinas 3.0 with just 2 months of preparation.

    A long PBA season with 3 conferences will cost all Gilas Players game-wear-and-tear. With the players’ tired condition and extreme physicality in International tournaments, PBA team owners will hesitate to lend their players to the Gilas pool in fear of losing their boys due to serious injuries. In line with this 4 PBA impact players have to give their commitments yet to Coach Baldwin due to undisclosed reasons.

    Ray Ray Parks’ stint with Dallas Mavericks in the Summer League will also keep the former UAAP MVP in joining the National Pool. Parks’ priorities right now are clearly focused on NBA despite of him getting undrafted in the 2015 Annual Draft.
    It would also be a great avenue for Ray Ray Parks to be with Gilas Pilipinas for a chance to impress NBA scouts who will surely be present in the region’s most prestigious tournament. But for Parks, he’s one foot is already at the doorstep of NBA by playing with the Mavs in the Summer League. Best of luck for Ray Ray!

    Can Jordan Clarkson play for our Nation Squad?

    Sad to say no. It’s impossible due to the “Hagop Rule” in FIBA i.e. all players must declare their citizenship and must have local passports before they reach the age of 18 to be eligible to play in all FIBA sanctioned tournaments. Clarkson whose grandmother is a Filipina and now 23 years old expressed his intention to play for our flag and country if will be given a chance. But it is the new imposed rule that impeded him in joining Gilas 3.0.

    Will Andray Blatche play?

    Naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche who played for Gilas at the FIBA World Championships in Spain last year has given his word and commitment to Coach Baldwin that he will be readily available for this year’s regional basketball tournament. Blatche is currently playing as an import for Xingyiang Flying Tigers in China Basketball Association (CBA).

    Marcus Douthit our other Naturalized Filipino who is still under contract until the end of this year will be Andray Blatche’s back-up in case he will not be able to make the roster due to serious injury or any other valid reasons.

    But the thing is, Douthit is also being plagued with various injuries and his performance is slowly deteriorating based on his production in the recently concluded SEABA and SEA Games.

    Looking for another candidate for Naturalization is not an option. It will take time to process everything: from funding, to player scouting, senate hearing and Presidential approval.

    What’s at stake?

    FIBA Asia Championship winner will automatically qualify for the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

    Winning this year’s FIBA Asia tournament will be a difficult task to accomplish for our National Squad due to inevitable circumstances but we know that our players will play with all their hearts and they got our back for sure.

    All the best for our Gilas Pilipinas Nationals!
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