Gilas 5 starts Fiba Asia bid vs S. Arabia


Banking on homecourt advantage and a favorable draw, Gilas Pilipinas will start its Fiba Asia Championship campaign against Saudi Arabia at the Mall Of Asia Arena on Aug. 1.

The Saudi challenge presents a potential warm-up for the national team made up of PBA players before Gilas faces its first big test of the 2014 Fiba World Cup qualifier opposite Jordan the following day.

Jordan denied the Philippines a title shot in the previous Asian Championship two years ago in Wuhan, China, after quashing a late rally by the Filipinos in the semifinals.

The Nationals eventually placed fourth after losing to South Korea in the bronze-medal game of the tournament that offered a lone continental slot to the 2012 London Olympics.

Coached by Vincent “Chot’’ Reyes, Gilas will wrap up its Group A assignment on Aug. 3 against Chinese Taipei, which has kept its dangerous core intact.

The top three teams of Group A will merge with the top placers in Group B to form Group E in the next round for a single-round playoff among the six teams.

In this round, the Philippines will most likely face Japan, Lebanon and Qatar with the best four teams moving on to the crossover quarterfinals where they will meet the four other qualifiers from Group F.

Defending champion China, two-time champion Iran and South Korea are the strong contenders to qualify in Group F.

Gilas is hoping to top the Group E bracket move up against the fourth-ranked team in Group F, which could be Kazakhstan.

Survivors in the quarterfinals tangle in the semifinals where the winners assure themselves of slots to the world championship next year in Spain.

The bronze-medal winner will punch the last ticket to the worlds.

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