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FIBA World Cup: Olympic berth up in the air for Asian teams

As top teams around the world take the spotlight in the FIBA World Cup 2023, much of the attention is also being drawn to the race on which will become the best placed Asian team at the end of the tournament.

Such finish would grant the team an automatic berth to the 2024 Paris Olympics – a goal that is surely in the mind of every Asian team in the tournament.

Gilas Pilipinas’ Dwight Ramos (No. 24) PHOTO BY RIO DELUVIO

However, opening day didn't look too kindly on the region mates. So far, all Asian teams have dropped their first assignments, with Gilas Pilipinas being the lone team that managed to put up a fight and avoid being blown out by higher-ranked opponents from the Americas and Euro qualifiers.

The Philippines was even able to put itself in a position to win and was tantalizingly close to pulling off what was believed to be the improbable, if not for the exit of main man Jordan Clarkson in the final three minutes, allowing the Dominican Republic to escape with an 87-81 win.

The Philippines took the upper hand on several occasions during the game, never trailed by double figures, and engaged the Karl-Anthony Towns-led Dominicans in a nip-and-tuck affair with a total of 19 deadlocks and 15 lead changes.

The same couldn't be said for its Asian neighbors. Co-host Japan came the closest to Gilas Pilipinas' feat, being able to put up a fight in the earlygoing against Germany.

The Akatsuki Five, even after splendid performances from Yuta Watanabe and Yudai Baba, still absorbed an 18-point defeat though, 81-63, at the hands of the Mo Wagner-led Deutch. Jordan was also one of the other Asian teams that held its ground, but stunningly lost steam in the end.

Former PBA Best Import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was all over the place for the Falcons, but they were only able to make the game competitive until the third frame.

Greece went on a tear in the final period and dealt Jordan a 21-point beating, 92-71.

The rest of the Asian teams absorbed complete blowouts. Lebanon bowed to Latvia by 37, 107-70, while Iran was no match for Brazil, absorbing a 41-point thrashing, 100-59.

Then there's also the great wall of China, which crumbled at the hands of Serbia by 42 points, 105-63.

Needless to say, the battle for an outright Olympic berth among Asian teams is still up in the air. It isn't “forget Paris” just yet.

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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