GILAS Pilipinas’ highly-anticipated showdown with Chinese-Taipei won’t happen until the final day of the Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship preliminaries on August 3.
In the official tournament schedule released by Fiba-Asia on Monday, the showdown between the Nationals and Taiwanese is set on a Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena and serves as the main game of a heavy eight-game sked.
Game time is at 8:30 p.m.
The clash is expected to be highly charged in light of the Chinese-Taipei organizers’ decision to withdraw an earlier invitation for Gilas Pilipinas to compete in the annual Jones Cup basketball tournament following the diplomatic tension between the two governments.
The Nationals begin their quest for a place in the 2014 world championships on August 1 against Saudi Arabia as coach Chot Reyes readily invoked the country’s rights as host to choose its opponent on opening day.
Reyes opted to pick the less-dangerous Saudis for the team’s first assignment, but Gilas goes head-on against region powerhouse Jordan – runner-up to China during the 2011 edition of the meet in Wuhan, China – in Day Two of the preliminaries.
Both games against Saudi Arabia and Jordan are set at 8:30 p.m.
The Nationals are bracketed in Group A along with Chinese Taipei, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.
The Gilas-Saudi Arabia match-up is the highlight of a full six-game match to be played at the MOA Arena during the opener, which will also see the titanic battle between defending champion China and longtime region rival South Korea at 5:45 p.m.
Iran formally opens the tournament by battling Malaysia in the first game set at 11 a.m. followed by the Jordan-Chinese Taipei tussle (1:15 p.m.), and the Japan-Qatar match (3:30 p.m.).
Lebanon vs. Hong Kong rounds out the final game of the opener at 10:30 p.m.
Two opening-day games will also be played over at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium, with Kazakhstan taking on Thailand at 6 p.m., and India going up against Bahrain at 8:30 p.m.
Other interesting face-off in the preliminaries is the Iran-China encounter on August 3 and the Japan-Lebanon collision also on the same day.
Korea versus Iran and Qatar against Lebanon on August 2 are also worth watching.