THE Philippine team found itself in a tough group in the Fiba-Asia Under-18 Championship following the result of the draw on Monday.
The Batang Gilas are already assured of making it to the second round after they were bracketed with last year’s runner-up South Korea and Jordan in Group B, with tournament rules calling for the top three teams in each group to advance to the next stage.
National youth head coach Jamike Jarin said what makes the campaign even more difficult is that the team will have an early clash with Group A teams such as defending champion China and host Qatar in the second round.
“Mahirap kasi we play Korea sa group natin, then we have China and host Qatar in the second round,” said Jarin.
China defeated South Korea in the last edition of the meet in Mongolia two years ago, where the Philippines finished sixth.
After a first-day bye, the Philippines will first play Jordan on August 20 before clashing with South Korea the following day at the Al-Gharafa Stadium.
Group A will have China, Qatar, India, and Malaysia, while Group C is composed of Iran, Kazakhstan, Bahrain, and Kuwait.
Group D has Japan, Chinese Taipei, Iraq, and Hong Kong.
Kobe Paras leads the Philippine Under-18 squad along with Jollo Go, Richard Escoto, Paul Desiderio, and three players from the Under-17 team that will see action in the world championship.