THE PHILIPPINE youth team begins its daunting campaign in the 22nd Fiba-Asia U18 Championships when it takes on Saudi Arabia Friday in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia.
The Energen-backed nationals take on the Saudis at 6 p.m. local time in Group D action at the Buyant-Ukhaa Stadium in one of the eight opening matches of the tournament serving as qualifier for next year's Fiba Under-19 World Championship meet.
The Philippines will have its hands full of at least duplicating the fifth place finish achieved by its predecessors in Yemen two years ago since it has been bracketed in the so-called `group of death' that saw them playing former champion Iran and 2008 silver medalist Kazakhstan in the same bracket.
Coach Olsen Racela later stated the obvious in his twitter account@theBigOls when he tweeted, "just attended Fiba Asia U18 opening ceremony dinner and as expected, we're one of the smallest teams here in Mongolia."
The top three teams in Group D will join its counterparts in Group C, where they play another round-robin tournament with teams coming from the other bracket.
The nationals are in high spirits upon arriving in Mongolia despite having been stranded at their practice facility in Quezon City at the height of the massive flood brought about by torential monsoon rains last week.
After the Saudi Arabians, the Filipino youth cagers face Kazakhstan on Saturday before squaring off with Iran on Sunday.