Smart Gilas drawn in Group A; Mahram go in Group B
MANILA, Philippines (22nd FIBA Asia Champions Cup): Hosts Smart Gilas, comprising the core of the Philippines National Team, have been drawn in Group A of the Preliminary Round for the 22nd FIBA Asia Champions Cup which will tip off the FIBA Asia calendar for 2011.
The 22nd FIBA Asia Champions Cup, Asia’s premier event for club teams, will be held at the Filipino capital from May 28 – June 5.
Ten top club teams from various FIBA Asia National Federations will match wits in the nine-day bash aiming to become the Champion club team in Asia.
The draw was conducted by FIBA Asia Deputy Secretary General Hagop Khajirian at Manila on Friday.
Among other dignitaries attending the draw were former SBP President Manuel V. Pangilinan, former FIBA Asia Secretary General Mauricio C. Martelino, SBP Executive Director Renauld N. Barrios.
Also present were Ambassadors of Lebanon and Iran to Philippines, representatives of Embassy of Qatar and the coach of the Malaysian National team.
Mahram in high-voltage battle
Iranian giants Mahram are on a quest for an unprecedented three-peat of FIBA Asia Champions Cup titles, but their task is uphill right from the word go.
For, pitted along with the Iranians in Group B for the Preliminary Round, are last year’s runners-up Al Rayyan of Qatar.
And if that is not sufficient, the two are joined by WABA heavyweights representing Lebanon and Syria besides Emirates club Al Shabab.
“The representatives from Lebanon and Syria will be known at the end of the WABA League 2011, the qualifying event for the 22nd FIBA Asia Champions Cup,” said Khajirian, also the Secretary General of the West Asian Basketball Association, a sub zone of FIBA Asia.
Smart Gilas, who made their first foray on the international scene at the 20th FIBA Asia Champions Cup in Jakarta two years ago, have made rapid progress under former Iran coach Toroman Rajko and are aiming for a top finish at the 26th FIBA Asia Champions Cup later this year.
The hosts will go up against Asean Basketball League semifinalists KL Dragons of Malaysia, Jordanian outfit ASU, a top club team representing the BJ League from Japan and the representative of FIBA Asia Sub zone Middle Asia.
“The Japanese Basketball Association is in talks with BJ-League teams Ryukyu Okinawa and Rizing Fukuoka and one them will be confirmed soon,” Khajirian said.
It will also mark the return of an East Asian team to the FIBA Asia Champions Cup fray after a gap of one year.
Korea’s Sangmoo, who finished seventh at the 2009 FIBA Asia Champions Cup in Jakarta, were the last East Asian team to take part.
Each will team will play all the others once in the group to identify the top four teams from each group for the Quarterfinal Play-offs.
Groupings for the Preliminary Round
KL Dragons (MAS)
Al Rayyan (QAT)