Host team Gilas Pilipinas tangles with Saudi Arabia on Aug. 1 to start its campaign in the 27th FIBA Asia Championship.
The Phl quintet mixes it up with the Saudi side at 8:30 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay, headlining the opening eight-game bill in the Asian World Cup qualifier.
The other MOA Arena matches on opening day pit Iran versus Malaysia at 11 a.m., Jordan against Chinese Taipei at 1:15 p.m., Japan opposite Qatar at 3:30 p.m., China against Korea at 5:45 p.m. and Lebanon versus Hong Kong at 10:30 p.m.
Over at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Manila, Kazakhstan and Thailand square off at 6 p.m. then India and Bahrain slug it out at 8:30 p.m.
Next up for Gilas Pilipinas in Group A play is Jordan on Aug. 2 then Chinese Taipei the following day, both at 8:30 p.m. at the MOA Arena.
The top three from Group A will later play the top three from Group B (Japan, Qatar, Lebanon and Hong Kong). Then the top four from the A-B bracket advance to the knockout stage with the top four from the C-D side.
As host, Team Philippines enjoyed the luxury of picking its preliminary-round grouping and the sequence of its games in the first round of the prelims.
Obviously, coach Chot Reyes chose Saudi Arabia for a light workout before tackling the tougher Jordan and Chinese Taipei foes.
Saudi Arabia is the lowest-ranked team in Group A, competing in its first FIBA Asia Championship since the 2005 edition of the biennial meet where it placed eighth.
The Gulf team has played in a total of only seven Asian jousts with a best finish of third place in Japan in 1999.
It was seventh in its initial FIBA Asia stint in 1989, ninth in 1991, sixth in 1993 and 1995 and finally made the semis, placing fourth in 1997. (SB)
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