CHANGSHA – Gilas Pilipinas mangled Gulf minnow Kuwait, 110-64, and safely made it to the next round of the eliminations of the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship at the Changsha Social Work College Gymnasium here Friday night.
Riding the momentum of a 101-50 conquest of Hong Kong the previous day, the Nationals made a short work of the Kuwaitis and advanced to the second round in Group E with Iran, Japan, India, Palestine and Hong Kong.
Depending on the result of the Hong Kong-Palestine game, the Philippines plays either Japan or India at the resumption of play on Sunday.
The Filipinos must make the Top Four in Group E to advance to the quarterfinals versus anyone among China, South Korea, Jordan, Qatar, Kazakhstan and Lebanon.
That’s where the real battle starts for Gilas Pilipinas here.
Defending champion Iran and host China, as expected, led the charge of the traditional powers into the second phase of elims.
Iran, winner of three of the last four editions of the biennial regional meet, dominated Group A, clobbering Japan, India and Iran by a whopping average margin of 46.6 points.
China, the most dominant Asian team for the longest time with a current world ranking of No. 14, debuted with a 91-42 rout of Singapore then automatically clinched a spot in the next round with a stirring come-from-behind 76-73 win over South Korea.
The Koreans also advanced despite the heartbreaking loss to the host team where they blew away a huge 18-point spread at 60-42.
Group D provided much thrill and excitement with Qatar taking top honors on a pair of overtime triumphs over Kazakhstan (79-75) and Lebanon (105-100).
Chinese Taipei crushed back to earth here from their magical ride in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship, unable to get past their Group of Death plays with Qatar, Kazakhstan and Lebanon.
The Taiwanese went on a big downfall from its fourth-place showing in 2013, best remembered for their upsets of Gilas Pilipinas and China on the way to a fourth-place finish.
Ominous sign of their debacle here was a poor showing in the MVP Cup in Manila, with the worst in a humbling defeat by the Talk n Text Tropang Texters. (SB)