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    As Gilas struggles to form a pool, here's what its Asian rivals are already busy with

    Jul 31, 2015
    National coach Tab Baldwin and his Gilas team will have a lot of catching-up to do by the time the members of the pool are announced on Monday. Jerome Ascano

    GILAS Pilipinas is still in the process of putting together the national training pool from where the final roster for the 2015 FIBA-Asia Men’s Championship will be formed.

    By next week, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is expected to announce the final list of the national team’s pool of players for the Olympic qualifyier, giving Gilas less than two months to prepare for the event set from September 23 to October 3 in Changsha, China.

    Meanwhile, the rest of the field including defending champion Iran, many-time title holder China, and perennial contenders Lebanon and Korea already have their respective teams going by training overseas and competing in pocket tournaments.

    Only the champion team in the Fiba-Asia meet will qualify for the 2016 Rio de Jainero Olympics.

    So how far has the Philippines lagged behind in its preparation for the Olympic qualifier? Spin.ph takes a look at how other Asian countries have been doing in their own Fiba-Asian buildup.

    Continue reading below ↓

    Iran, China, Japan playing in ‘International Basketball Challenge’

    The two Asian powers are competing in the 2015 International Basketball Challenge in Suzhou, China with Iran, the defending Fiba-Asia champion, losing to the hosts, bannered anew by former NBA player Yi Jianlian, 68-64, in its first game, according to the Tehran Times.

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    China is looking to bounce back from a disappointing fifth-place finish in the last edition of the biennial meet held in Manila while Iran is parading a new coach in former German Olympic mentor Dirk Bauermann.

    And the two teams are expected to experience quality basketball as they are slated to play Italy and Slovakia in the tournament.

    Japan is also seeing action in the meet where it is grouped with powerhouse United States, Lithuania, and Australia. The Japanese are returning to the international scene after Fiba finally lifted its suspension on the country.

    Korea names 16-man pool

    The Philippines’ longtime nemesis Korea has kicked off its training for the Fiba-Asia tilt after naming a 16-man pool.

    Continue reading below ↓

    Among those included are Han Huiwon, who played for the country in the 2015 World University Games which Korea hosted, and naturalized player Moon Taeyoung, brother of Moon Taejong, who suited up for the team when it won the gold in the 2014 Asian Games.

    A new coach in Kim Dong Kwang is in place for the Koreans, who he thinks will be ready enough following a two-month preparation.

    “Two months is an ample time for the team to get ready and be hopeful for the best results,” said Kim in an interview with the official Fiba website.

    Korea was beaten by Gilas Pilipinas in dramatic fashion, 86-79, during the semifinals of the Fiba World Cup qualifier in Manila two years ago.

    Lithuania training for Qatar

    According to the Fiba website, Qatar is headed for Lithuania this August in the first of three stages in its preparation for the Asian championships. By September, the team is also going to the Philippines to play in the MVP Cup, and later on in China.

    Continue reading below ↓

    “We will be looking to have confrontations against sides that are commensurate with the teams that we will play in our group at the beginning of the Asia Championship,” said Ahmed Abdul Hadi, director of national teams for basketball as he spoke about Qatar's preparations.

    Qatar was the same team that defeated the Philippines in the 2014 Asian Games in what set off the downfall of Gilas Pilipinas’ bid for the gold.

    Serbia training, pocket tournament in Poland for Lebanon

    The Lebanon team has been intact since June when they won the WABA Championship, a qualifier for the Fiba-Asia tournament. With two months to go before the event, the entire Lebanon squad coached by Serbian Veselin Matic will soon begin its rigid training, according to the Daily Star.

    The team led by top star Fadi El Khatib will fly to Serbia on August 10 for training and will compete in a four-nation pocket tournament in Poland where it will play against Belguim and Estonia, which are also preparing for the European championship.

    Continue reading below ↓

    Lebanon will also play in the MVP Cup in the Philippines.

    Prior to their final buildup though, the younger players of the team have already taken part in the Arab Cup this July.

    Chinese Taipei to train in Korea

    Reports out of Taiwan are that the Chinese Taipei team is set for training in South Korea by mid-August before seeing action in the William Jones Cup.

    The Taiwanese have been preparing for some time now after the pool was first named last May.

    Naturalized player Quincy Davis is reportedly already joining the squad out to improve on its fourth place finish in the 2013 FIBA-Asia.

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    National coach Tab Baldwin and his Gilas team will have a lot of catching-up to do by the time the members of the pool are announced on Monday. Jerome Ascano
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