By JONAS TERRADO
Gilas Pilipinas will have more games against New Zealand and India after being drawn in Group D of the pandemic-delayed FIBA Asia Cup which is set mid-July in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The three countries are joined by Lebanon following a draw ceremony held Friday, Feb. 18 that determined the groupings for the continental tournament which was supposed to be held last year.
Australia, the last Asia Cup champion back in 2017, host Indonesia, Jordan and Saudi Arabia are in Group A, China, South Korea, Taiwan and Bahrain are in Group B while Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan and Syria comprise Group C.
By the time the tournament takes place, Gilas will be familiar with both the Kiwis and Indians since they are also in the same group in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers which starts this month at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Gilas plays India on Feb. 25 and New Zealand on Feb. 27 as part of its busy schedule in the World Cup window.
The Asia Cup is part of a busy 2022 schedule for Gilas that also includes the Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam, Asian Games in China and the succeeding windows of the World Cup Qualifiers.
Coach Chot Reyes, who has opted to field a team led by the core of his TNT squad in the PBA, plans to set up a long-term pool for the said competition as part of the buildup for next year’s World Cup.