The draw for this year’s FIBA Asia Championship has just concluded. All 16 participating teams have now been grouped for the tournament, which will be held in August right here in Manila.
The Philippines, being the host nation, was given the right to pick the group that it wanted to join. Gilas Pilipinas Team representatives Norman Black and Nash Racela chose to join Group A, which already had Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and (oh yes) Chinese-Taipei in it.
The tournament format is as follows: the top three teams from Groups A and B are put together to form Group E, and the top three teams from Groups C and D are put together to form Group F. All Group A qualifiers play all Group B qualifiers once, and all Group C qualifiers play all Group D qualifiers once. The top four teams from Groups E and F qualify for the crossover quarterfinals.
Because of the format, it is important for the Philippines to come out either first or second in Group E, provided they make it that far (they probably will)
Here’s a rundown of all four groups together with a few quick thoughts on who we think will move on to the second round:
Group A – Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Chinese-Taipei, The Philippines
No disrespect to Saudi Arabia, but there’s a reason this is the group the Philippines picked. Look for the Philippines vs. Chinese-Taipei game to be the most intense in this group. Jordan, the Philippines, and Chinese-Taipei (not exactly in that order) should advance to the next round.
Group B – Japan, Qatar, Lebanon, Hong Kong
Lebanon is still competitive, and so is Japan. Look for those two teams to finish first and second in this group. Qatar should finish third and move on to the second round.
Group C – China, South Korea, Iran, SEABA 2
Whoever that qualifier from SEABA turns out to be (Thailand, perhaps?) will be in for a world of hurt…or more. China, South Korea, and Iran are lucky that the tournament format calls for three teams to advance. Otherwise, one of these three countries will be going home without reaching the knockout stages. Anyway, look for those three to move on to the second round. Again, good luck to whoever SEABA 2 turns out to be.
Group D – Bahrain, India, Kazakhstan, SEABA 1
This is probably the weakest among all four groups, at least based on recent FIBA Asia history. Kazakhstan should top this group, and Bahrain and India will probably join it in the second round.