FIBA Asia schedule released

The Gilas players and SBP officials say a prayer before plunging into their first practice. (Photo by Jude Roque)

Home team Gilas Pilipinas starts its ambitious title drive against Saudi Arabia when the 27th FIBA-Asia men’s basketball championships unfolds on Aug. 1 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Rated 45th in the world and pooled in Group A, the Nationals, after taking on the 69th-ranked Arabs, will then battle pre-tourney favorite Jordan (No.30) the following day before tangling with Chinese-Taipei (No.42) on Aug. 3.

Utilizing one of the privileges as the event’s host, the Philippines’ matches are also scheduled at 8:30 in the evening at the plush basketball arena.

The Pasay-based venue will also serve as the battleground for matches in Groups B–Japan, Lebanon, Qatar and Hong Kong–as well as in Group C–China, South Korea, Iran and Malaysia.

Participants in Group D–Kazakhstan, India, Thailand and Bahrain–will see action at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

The top three finishers in the 11-day event will earn the tickets for next year’s World Basketball Championships in Spain.

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Based on the tournament format, the top three teams from each group, carrying their win-loss records, will advance to the second round, with the qualifiers from Groups A and B making up Group E and those coming from Groups C and D comprising Group F.

The top four finishers from each group then meet in the crossover knockout pairings in the quarterfinals, with the winners advancing to the semifinals, also a “win-or-go home” scenario.

Then the semis winners will collide in a winner-take-all match.

On opening day, two-time champion Iran takes on Malaysia at 11 a.m., Jordan faces Chinese-Taipei at 1:15 p.m., Japan meets Qatar at 3:30 p.m., defending champion China tangles with South Korea at 5:45 p.m. and Lebanon clashes with Hong Kong at 10:30 p.m., all at the MOA Arena.

Over at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium, Kazakhstan faces Thailand at 6 p.m. and India meets Bahrain at 8:30 p.m.

On Day 2 at the MOA Arena, China meets Malaysia at 11 a.m., Chinese-Taipei battles Saudi Arabia at 1:15 p.m., Japan tangles with Hong Kong at 3:30 p.m., South Korea faces Iran at 5:45 p.m. and Qatar collides with Lebanon at 10:30 p.m.

At the Ninoy Aquino Stadium, Thailand clashes with India at 6 p.m. and Kazakhstan faces Bahrain at 8:30 p.m.

On the third day at MOA Arena, Malaysia meets South Korea 11 a.m., India tangles Kazakhstan at 1:15 p.m., Lebanon clashes with Japan at 3:30 p.m., Iran collides with China at 5:45 p.m., and Saudi Arabia takes on Jordan at 10:30 p.m.

Over at Ninoy Aquino Stadium, Bahrain battles Thailand at 6 p.m., and Hong Kong collides with Qatar at 8:30 p.m.