SMART Gilas is headed for another rough ride in the third International Basketball Federation (Fiba)-Asia Stankovic Cup in Lebanon next month.
The national squad is bracketed with defending champion Jordan in Group B, along with host Lebanon, Qatar and Syria. The draw was held on Monday at the Ghazir Sporting Club in Beirut for the international tournament slated from August 7 to 15.
Leading Group A is current Fiba-Asia champion Iran. Also in the group are Chinese Taipei, Japan, Kazakhstan and Iraq, which is returning to the Asian cage scene after more than 20 years of absence.
Iran, Jordan and Lebanon, along with China, are Asia’s representatives to the Fiba World Championship in Turkey from August 28 to September 12.
Smart Gilas is currently in Taiwan competing in the annual William R. Jones Cup invitational tournament.
Organizers said this edition of the Stankovic Cup will be the toughest in three years.
“The fray for the third Fiba-Asia Stankovic Cup is the most competitive in all the three editions of this event,” said Fiba-Asia deputy secretary-general Hagop Khajirian, who was present at the draw ceremony.
“My opinion is that the draw, which is rather well-balanced, only augurs well for the high-pitched battles basketball fans of Lebanon are expecting from this competition.”
Jordan, which won the title in 2008 in Kuwait, was actually a late entry in the competition as it was given a wild-card berth by the organizers.
Fiba-Asia president Sheikh Saud bin Ali Al-Thani said the 10-nation event gives the fans an idea of what to expect in the 2011 Fiba-Asia Championship, the qualifier for the 2012 London Olympics.
“Three teams in this competition are heading to Turkey for the 2010 Fiba World Championship. It can’t get more exciting for the basketball fans in Asia in general, and Lebanon in particular,” he said.
Joel Orellana, Business Mirror