Gilas stays at 3rd in FIBA Asia power ranking
By Nelson Beltran Updated Wednesday September 16, 2015 - 3:01pm
Terrence Romeo of Gilas dribbles past Wu Tai-Hao of Chinese Taipei in the final game of the MVP Cup last Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum. JUN MENDOZA

MANILA, Philippines - Gilas Pilipinas stayed at third place right behind titleholder Iran and 15-time champion China in the latest power ranking FIBA Asia released after the submission of the final lineups for the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship that fires off Wednesday in two playing venues in Changsha, China.

Jordan, handled by former Gilas coach Rajko Toroman, is easily the biggest gainer from the previous rankings, improving from No. 9 to No. 6 and to No. 4 a week before the start of the regional qualifier for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics next year.

Japan, Kazakhstan and Qatar also moved upward while Chinese Taipei, Korea and Lebanon moved down based on their showings in their training tourneys and based on the lineups they submitted last September 8.

The latest Power Ranking released by FIBA Asia has Iran, China, the Philippines and Jordan as the top four followed by Chinese Taipei, Japan, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Korea, Lebanon, India, Palestine, Kuwait, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.

FIBA Asia finds Iran's 12-man roster as solid from top to bottom, making the Middle East power the top favorite in the Changsha meet.

China is also considered a top choice especially for its home court advantage plus the biggest lineup in the field, featuring four players standing at least 6-foot-10.

FIBA Asia mentioned the continuous improvement of Gilas Pilipinas, impressed with the showing of Team Phl in the Jones Cup and in the MVP Cup.

Jordan barged into the Top Four with the return of veteran stars Sam Daghlas and Zaid Abbas and the team's remarkable performance in a four-nation pocket tourney in China. Toroman and his group are spending their final week of training in Manila before proceeding to Changsha, same with the Kuwaiti team.

Interestingly, Gilas' rivals in Group B (Palestine, Kuwait and Hong Kong) during the initial phase of the tourney are all ranked outside the Top 10.

If teams play according to rankings, Gilas Pilipinas would make the medal round with Iran, China and Jordan.

Korea, third placer in the last FIBA Asia and gold-medal winner in the last Asian Games in Incheon, has dropped from No. 3 to No. 5 to No. 9 due to injuries and controversies faced after the Jones Cup.

Seven-foot-3 center Ha Seung-jin and Yoon Ho-young were dropped from the roster due to injuries while spitfire Kim Sun-hyung was cut for his involvement in a game-fixing allegation. Coach Kim Dong-kwang filled the three spots with players from the collegiate ranks.

Lebanon, a perennial contender in the previous Asian meets, is in much trouble, missing crucial international warm-up games and failing to get the release of star player Fad El-Khatib from his Chinese league ball club.

With all these problems and distractions, the Cedars face tall odds versus Kazakhstan, Qatar and Chinese Taipei in Group D play.

Jay Youngblood has been signed up to take over from Loren Woods as the naturalized player of Lebanon.

Kazakhstan is steadily moving up in the Power Ranking, with its improvement noticed in its series of tune-up matches in Lithuania. It has kept its old cast, including naturalized player Jerry Johnson and homegrown stalwarts Anton Ponomarev, Dimo Klimov and Dimitriy Gavrilov.

The Kazakhs were losing semifinalists in the last Incheon Asiad.

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Saturday, August 10, 2013 @ MOA Arena
5:45 PM - Semifinal Round
Iran vs Chinese Taipei
8:00 PM - Semifinal Round
Philippines vs Korea