RP plays Saudi in Asiad cage opener

THE Smart-Gilas Pilipinas team drew unpredictable Saudi Arabia as its initial opponent in a virtual first-round knockout match in the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.

The nationals are in a must-win situation against the Saudis in Group B for them to advance to the second round and join the likes of powerhouse Iran, Chinese-Taipei, Qatar and Japan.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) executive director Noli Eala bared the scenario after formally receiving the official result of the drawing of lots Thursday from Guangzhou.

The other preliminary pairings will have Hong Kong taking on North Korea in Group A, Turkmenistan and Mongolia in Group C, and Afghanistan and India in Group D.

Defending champion China banners the seeded teams that are assured to advance in the second round along with South Korea, Jordan and Uzbekistan. The top team to emerge in Groups A and C will join the Chinese and the rest of the squads in the next round.

“It’s going to be tough,” said coach Radjo Toroman.  “While we’ve already met most of the teams competing in the Asian Games, we really have to come in prepared against (Saudi).”

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