Asian basketball fans will be treated to high-octane matchups at the opening day of the 2016 FIBA Asia Challenge. Host nation Iran will take on Qatar, China will do battle against Jordan while Gilas Pilipinas will parade their youth as they face India.
The 2016 FIBA Asia Challenge will be held from September 9 to 18 at the Azadi Indoor Stadium in Tehran, Iran. A total of twelve teams will try to secure a spot for the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup. Next year’s tournament will be the first to include teams from both FIBA Asia and FIBA Oceania.
China vs Jordan is set on Friday. The Chinese squad will be fielding in four young centers namely Ziming Fan, Yuchen Zou, Jinqiu Hu and Hanlin Tao. Meanwhile, Jordan will be going with their tried and tested nucleus of Zaid Abbas, Mohammad Hadrab and Ali Jamal Zaghab.
Iran and Qatar is also expected to gain a lot of attention. The host nation will be counting on the veteran leadership of Hamed Haddadi. The 7-foot-2 center is one of the few holdovers from Iran’s glory years.
In an interview with FIBA.com, Haddadi mentioned that winning the 2016 FIBA Asia Challenge is more important to him than claiming the tournament’s MVP trophy. He is aware of his new role as the elder statesman on the team.
“The average age of our team is lower now, and we don’t have experienced players like Samad [Nikkhah Bahrami], Mahdi [Kamrani] and Hamed Afagh,” he said. “Yes, the team is younger, and for these young players, this is a good opportunity to gain experience and show their talents.”
Philippines, aka Gilas Pilipinas 5.0, squares off against India. Due to scheduling conflict, professional players in the Philippines were rendered unavailable for the tournament.
Instead, interim head coach Josh Reyes has created a roster of former collegiate players eager to strut their wares at the international stage. Gilas Pilipinas 5.0 will feature popular amateur cagers such as Rey Mark Belo, Arnold Van Opstal, Kevin Ferrer and Von Pessumal, as per PhilStar.
Indian head coach Sat Prakash Yadav will be depending on his tall and sweet-shooting scorers Amritpal Singh and Vishesh Bhriguvanshi. The rest of the lineup include Arshpreet Bhullar, Ravi Bhardwaj, Rikin Pethani and Prasanna Sivakumar.