No Japanese team in FIBA Asia Champions Cup
That is because the Japan’s Basketball Federation has refused to send a squad in this prestigious tournament after the country was devastated by an earthquake and a tsunami in Fukushima recently.
With Japan not participating, Korea will be the likely replacement, according to Salvador “Aboy" Castro, the chairman of the organizing committee of the FIBA-Asia Champions Cup.
Castro said they have already invited the Korean team, which will most likely come from the Korean Basketball League (KBL).
Kazakhstan and Afghanistan have also begged off from becoming the ninth and 10th team of the tournament that will represent the Central Asia zone, but India has been invited, according to Castro.
“We are giving FIBA-Asia a deadline of until May 6 to submit the replacement for the teams so we can already prepare the schedule and the logistics," said Castro in Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.
Castro said the possible inclusion of Korea will not diffuse the chances of the Pilipinas-Smart Gilas of making it to the quarterfinals.
“We are in Group A whether we like it or not, so the team will just prepare hard for the tournament," said Castro, who is also the team manager of the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters in the PBA.
Castro said the organizing committee is ready for an eight or nine-team tournament.
“Ever since the beginning, we have a contingency plan of having eight or nine teams," said Castro.
Gilas return to practice
Castro added that our national team has returned to practice after a one-week break following its semifinal series defeat against Barangay Ginebra in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
“The team is very upbeat after a week-long break knowing that they have a renewed confidence. They’ll do a lot better and play cohesively for the tournament," said Castro.
Air21’s Dondon Hontiveros and Meraclo’s Asi Taulava practiced with the Nationals while the squad still awaits Jimmy Alapag and Kelly Williams, whose PBA team Talk N Text is still battling Barangay Ginebra in the ongoing PBA Commissioner’s Cup best-of-seven championship series. - RCJ, Reuben Terrado, GMA News