MANILA – Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino said the country has momentum on its side in men's basketball and women's football in the forthcoming 12th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.
“That was one big victory over China,” said Tolentino on Monday, two days after Gilas Pilipinas clobbered China, 96-75, to close out their FIBA World Cup 2023 campaign.
“The win was confidence-building and that brought back the belief that yes, Filipino athletes can,” added the cycling federation president.
Tolentino has the same trust and confidence for the Filipinas, who made history by qualifying for the Women’s World Cup and scoring a 1-0 victory over co-host New Zealand last July.
“Those are two momentum going for us in the Asian Games,” he said.
The men's basketball competition in the Asian Games will start three days after the opening ceremony on Sept. 26.
The Philippines is bracketed in Group C, playing Bahrain first then Thailand (Sept. 28) and Jordan (Sept. 29).
Japan, who qualified for the Paris Olympics as the best-finishing Asian team with a 3-2 record at the World Cup, is in Group D with Indonesia, Qatar and medal contender but a non-World Cup team South Korea.
Iran, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are in Group A while China, Lebanon, Chinese Taipei and Mongolia are in Group B.
“But of course, we should be expecting a big fightback from the Asian teams which were in the World Cup and didn’t fare well, much more nail a victory,” Tolentino said.
Lebanon (2-3) was the second-best Asian finisher at No. 23, China (1-4) was at No. 29, Iran (0-5) at No. 31 and Jordan (0-5) at No. 32. China beat Iran, 84-72, in the gold medal round of the 2018 Asian Games held in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Philippine team coached by Yeng Guiao finished eighth.
Meanwhile, the accreditation cards of Asian Games-bound athletes, coaches and officials are scheduled to be released by the POC at the PhilSports Complex in Pasig City on Monday.
A total of 395 athletes will compete in 37 of the 40 sports featured in the Hangzhou Games. The national associations for basketball and football have yet to announce their final rosters. (PNA)