Clarkson NBA veterans Clarkson (left) and Anderson will be on a mission to lead their respective teams to Paris.

Philippines, China on collision course

August 25, 2023 Robert Andaya 310 views

THE Philippines is keeping its focus on its three Group A opponents — Dominican Republic, Angola and Italy — in the preliminary phase of the FIBA World Cup 2023.

But the 12-man Gilas team bannered by NBA veteran Jordan Clarkson and the “Twin Towers” of June Mar Fajardo and Japeth Aguilar is also looking forward to a possible collision with Asian rival China in the second round.

That’s because China looms as the Philippines’ biggest and strongest rival for the lone Asian ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympics scheduled July 27-Aug. 11.

The highest-placed Asian country in the 32-team FIBA World Cup will get direct entry to Paris.

China, which is bracketed with powerhouse Serbia, Puerto Rico and South Sudan in Group B will parade newly-naturalized NBA player Kyle Anderson of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“It’s been a while since we’ve been to the Olympics. The last time was in 1972,” said Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio.

“The goal right now is to be the best-ranking team in Asia in the World Cup to advance to Paris.”

Aside from the Philippines and China, several other Asian countries are looking to gain the ticket to Paris.

Jordan, which is being reinforced by PBA import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson of TNT Tropang Giga, is also in the hunt in Group C

The Jordanians, however, are in the so-called Group of Death with five-time FiBA champion United States, Greece and New Zealand .

Co-host Japan will also try its luck in Group E, along with Olympic bronze medalist Australia, Germany and Finland.

Iran, which represented Asia in the Tokyo Olympics, faces the tough task of battling defending champion Spain, Ivory Coast and Brazil in Group G.

Another strong contender for the Paris ticket is Lebanon, although it will play heavy favorites Canada, Latvia and France in Group H .

If no one among Asian countries make it to the second round, they will. continue their battle for the lone Paris ticket in the 17th to 32nd classification phase.

The Filiponos are also hoping to do better this year than in 2019 edition in China where they failed to win a single game and wound up at the bottom of the 32-team event.

The Filipinos finished deadlast among Asian countries then with Iran (23rd) emerging No. 1 followed by China (24th), South Korea (26th), Jordan (28th) and Japan (31st).