SBP's Eala hoping for good draw in FIBA-Asia
Eala will personally be on hand in Tianjin, China on June 17 for the official drawing of lots for the 2009 edition of the meet serving as qualifier for the 2010 World Basketball Championship in Istanbul, Turkey.
Powerade Team Pilipinas manager JB Baylon is accompanying Eala in the trip.
“We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll not end up again being bracketed in a group as formidable as the one we belonged in Tokushima," said Eala.
The Philippines belonged with powerhouse teams China, Iran and Jordan in the same bracket during the 2007 FIBA-Asia meet in Tokushima, Japan, a cast so formidable that then RP coach Chot Reyes labeled it as the so-called “Group of Death."
Iran eventually topped the tournament by beating Lebanon in the championship match and earned a ticket to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“Our presence alone would allow us at least a fair shake of the deal," said the SBP official, who also invited Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) commissioner Sonny Barrios to join them.
“But Sonny is I think having second thoughts, since by that time, the PBA Fiesta Cup is already on its semifinal stage," he said.
The top four finishers of the FIBA-Asian meet in Tokushima are seeded in order of their finish and would be on one group each. China as the hosts has the right to choose which group it will be under.
Iran, Lebanon, Korea and Kazakhstan were the top four finishers in the biennial meet two years ago, where the Philippines placed ninth.
But even in the event the Philippines avoided ending up in a tough bracket, there is still no guarantee that the PBA-backed Nationals would be able to advance past the preliminary.
“We may not end up being grouped with China or Iran, but if we’re bracketed with Lebanon, Qatar, Jordan, Korea, Kazakhstan or even Japan, they are still tough group stage opponents," Eala said.
“Remember that only the top two teams in each group will make the quarterfinals." GMANews.TV