The Philippines has momentum on its side — and more especially rekindled trust and confidence — in men’s basketball action at the 19th Asian Games that start in 19 days.
“That was one big victory over China,” said Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino Monday, two days after Gilas Pilipinas closed out its FIBA World Cup campaign with a convincing 96-75 rout of China Sunday night.
“The win was confidence-building and that brought back the belief that yes, Filipino athletes can,” added Tolentino, who also expressed the same trust on the Filipinas, the women’s national football team, who made history by qualifying for the Women’s World Cup and nailed a victory, 1-0, over tournament co-host New Zealand last July.
“Those are two momentums going for us in the Asian Games,” Tolentino said.
Men’s basketball in the Asian Games is set three days after the opening ceremony on 26 September in three venues with the Philippines taking on Bahrain as its first opponent in Group C where Thailand and Jordan, which went 0-5 won-lost to finish seven rungs below No. 24 Philippines in the World Cup, are also bracketed.
Gilas Pilipinas plays Thailand on 28 September and Jordan on 29 September.
Japan, the best-finishing Asian at 3-2 in the World Cup for an automatic Paris Olympics berth, is in Group D with Indonesia, Qatar and a non-World Cup team South Korea.
Iran, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are in Group A while China, Lebanon, Chinese Taipei and Mongolia make up Group B.
“But of course, we should be expecting a big fightback from the Asian teams which were in the World Cup and didn’t fare well, much more nail a victory,” Tolentino said.
China (1-4) finished No. 29, No. 31 Iran (0-5) and No. 32 Jordan (0-5). Lebanon (2-3) was the second-best Asian finisher at No. 23.
Athletes, coaches and officials bound for Hangzhou are scheduled to secure their Asian Games and accreditation cards starting today (Monday) at the POC offices at the Philsports Complex in Pasig City.
Team Philippines is composed 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, beating Iran to the gold medal, 84-72, in Jakarta 2018. The Yeng Guiao-coached and Jordan Clarkson-led Philippine team finished in eighth place.