Gilas Pilipinas grouped with heavyweight Australia, Japan, Taipei in Asian qualifiers of Fiba World Cup

GILAS Pilipinas, it turned out, will be among the first nations to face off with Australia in the latter's debut in the Asian qualifiers of the Fiba World Cup.

The Philippines was drawn with the powerhouse Australian side as well as nemesis Chinese-Taipei and Japan in Group B of the Asian qualifiers for the 2019 Fiba World Cup in China.

That means Gilas will be among the first Asian teams to get a shot at the world No. 11 Boomers after Fiba decided to merge Asia and Oceania for the reformatted qualifying for the World Cup.

This early, Australia has been installed as one of the favorites in the home-and-away qualifying with a team that can count on such players as Andrew Bogut, Dante Exum, Ben Simmons, and Patty Mills.

The only bit of good news is that all the qualifying windows are expected to be held during the NBA season, meaning Bogut and Co. will likely be unavailable for the Boomers.

Defending Fiba Asia champion China also found itself in a tough bracket, drawn in Group A with longtime rival Korea, Hong Kong and another Asian qualifiers first-timer in New Zealand.

Former Asian champion Iran is in Group D with Iraq, Qatar and Kazakhstan while Group C is made up of Lebanon, India, Syria and Jordan.

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