FIBA World Cup

Olympic stalemate: All Asian teams drop opening games in FIBA World Cup

Delfin Dioquino

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Olympic stalemate: All Asian teams drop opening games in FIBA World Cup

STANDOUT. Yuta Watanabe in action for Japan against Germany in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.


The highest-placed Asian team in the FIBA World Cup will clinch an outright spot in the Paris Olympics

MANILA, Philippines – Asian teams in the FIBA World Cup remain on equal footing in the joust for a coveted berth in the Paris Olympics.

Gilas Pilipinas, China, Japan, Iran, Lebanon, and Jordan dropped their respective opening matches as the first two days of the global hoops showpiece wrapped up.

The Philippines missed out on a massive upset after an 87-81 loss to Dominican Republic in Group A before a World Cup record crowd at the Philippine Arena on Friday, August 25.

Jordan Clarkson impressed with 28 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 steals, but he fouled out with 3:30 minutes left as the Filipinos fell short of their first World Cup victory since they beat Senegal in the 2014 edition.

Despite the defeat, the Philippines posted the lowest losing margin as all other Asian squads lost by at least 18 points.

Every point matters, with ties for the final standing to be settled by point difference.

Continental powerhouse China suffered the most lopsided defeat, absorbing a 105-63 beatdown from perennial contender Serbia in Group B at the Araneta Coliseum on Saturday, August 26.

Team Dragons struggled from the get-go en route to the 42-point rout as naturalized player Kyle Anderson laid a big fat egg in his FIBA debut for China.

A forward for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Anderson – whose Chinese name is Li Kaier – went scoreless after missing all of his nine shot attempts in 25 minutes of action.

Iran, which qualified for the Tokyo Games after finishing as the highest-placed Asian team in the last World Cup, also endured a whipping following a 100-59 loss to Brazil in Group G on Saturday in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Seven-foot-two veteran Hamed Haddadi – playing in his fourth straight World Cup – showed the way for Team Melli with 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists.

World Cup co-host Japan fell to a slow start and bowed to a formidable Germany side bannered by NBA players Dennis Schroder, Mo Wagner, and Daniel Theis, 81-63, in Group E in Okinawa.

New Phoenix Suns acquisition Yuta Watanabe fired 20 points with 6 rebounds and 2 blocks, but the Akatsuki simply lacked firepower against the fancied Germans.

Over in Group C, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Jordan put up a fight against Greece through the first three quarters before they absorbed a 92-71 loss at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday.

Hollis-Jefferson, a former NBA player who got naturalized by the Falcons for the World Cup, produced 24 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists in his FIBA debut for Jordan.

Also pitted against a European squad, Lebanon sustained a 109-70 blowout from Latvia in Group H on Friday in Jakarta.

Locals Sergio El Darwich and Wael Arakji led the Cedars with 19 and 14 points, respectively.

All teams in the World Cup are set to play at least five games, whether they advance to the second round or fall to the classification stage. –

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.