The Philippines have momentum on their side, and more importantly, rekindled trust and confidence in men’s basketball as they prepare for the Hangzhou 19th Asian Games, which begin in 19 days (as of Monday, September 4).
“That was one big victory over China,” said Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino on Monday, two days after Gilas Pilipinas closed out its FIBA World Cup campaign with a convincing 96-75 rout of China on Sunday night.
“The win was confidence-building and brought back the belief that yes, Filipino athletes can,” added Tolentino. He also expressed the same trust in the Filipinas, the women’s national football team, who made history by qualifying for the Women’s World Cup and secured a 1-0 victory over tournament co-host New Zealand last July.
“Those are two sources of momentum for us in the Asian Games.”
Men’s basketball at the Asian Games is scheduled three days after the opening ceremony on September 26, with the Philippines facing Bahrain as its first opponent in Group C. Thailand and Jordan, both of which finished below the 24th-ranked Philippines in the World Cup standings, are also in the same group.
Gilas Pilipinas will play against Thailand on September 28 and Jordan on September 29.
Japan, the best-finishing Asian team with a 3-2 record in the World Cup, earning an automatic Paris Olympics berth, is in Group D with Indonesia, Qatar, and South Korea, a medal contender but not a World Cup team.
Iran, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates make up Group A, while China, Lebanon, Chinese Taipei, and Mongolia form Group B.
“But of course, we should expect a strong comeback from the Asian teams that were in the World Cup and didn’t perform well, let alone secure a victory,” Tolentino said.
China (1-4) finished at No. 29, Iran (0-5) at No. 31, and Jordan (0-5) at No. 32. Lebanon (2-3) was the second-best Asian finisher at No. 23.
Athletes, coaches, and officials bound for Hangzhou are scheduled to obtain their Asian Games accreditation cards starting today (Monday) at the POC offices at the PhilSports Complex in Pasig City.
Team Philippines consists of 395 athletes who will compete in 37 of the 40 sports on the Hangzhou program.
The national associations for basketball and football have yet to announce their final Asian Games rosters.
China is the reigning Asian Games champion, defeating Iran to win the gold medal with a score of 84-72 in Jakarta in 2018. The Philippine team, coached by Yeng Guiao and led by Jordan Clarkson, finished in eighth place.