Fearless forecast (Hopeful prediction) for the 2013 FIBA Asia Championships
By Aldo Avinante Updated Friday July 26, 2013 - 6:44pm

I am a passionate fan boy of the Philippine National Team since the 90s. My main influence in basketball fanaticism is my father who always tells stories of our legendary feats in the glory years of our forays in the international basketball realm.

I have been able to read and research the history of our national basketball team but the passionate way my dad talks about our national team rubbed off to me well and made me a staunch supporter of the Philippine team. I've read about our third place finish in the prestigious 1954 World Championships, led by arguably the greatest Filipino basketball player Caloy "The Big Difference" Loyzaga.

Featured were fierce rivalries and legendary games against Korea and Japan in the 60s and 70s. Shin Dong Pa and Masatomo Taniguchi were the main antagonists equipped with their renowned shooting capabilities while we have the likes of Jun Papa, Bogs Adornado and others.  Trash talk was prevalent and the three countries interchanged at the top of Asian basketball supremacy.

We also had the NCC team in the 80s and naturalized imports like Chip Engelland, Dennis Still and Jeff Moore but they were unceremoniously disbanded after the People Power outbreak. Then there was the return of our PBA players in the 90s, which featured more or less second and third place finishes in various Asian Games tussles.

My personal account started with the 1998 Centennial team. I remembered vividly how Johnny Abarrientos was the clear-cut best player on that team. We were methodically defeated by a sweet-shooting Korean team. In 2002, there was South Korea's infamous Lee San Min prayer triple that broke the hearts of Filipinos, our suspension in the middle of the 2000s, our inclusion in the Group of Death in 2007 that had all the breaks going for the opposing teams, and finally, the formation of college players in 2009 as the Gilas Pilipinas national team, which ended with a fourth place finish in the 2011 FIBA Asia championships.

Now we have this team, the 2013 Smart Gilas Pilipinas National team, led by returning head coach Chot Reyes to try and lead us back in our quest for Asian basketball supremacy. With almost three months of practice here and abroad, Gilas will have the luxury of playing in the comfortable confines of the MOA Arena from August 1-11.

Here's how I hope the 2013 FIBA Asia Championships will unfold:

ROUNDS ONE (1) AND TWO (2):

Realistically, Gilas Pilipinas can finish the first two rounds with a 6-0 record and get the number one slot for group E. The winner in the first round match-up between Jordan and Taipei will boost them to second place while the latter will get the number three spot going into the quarterfinal round. The final slot is between Japan and Qatar, and I think the latter will get the nod with their size advantage and Jarvis Hayes will prove why he is a legit NBA player.

In group F, Iran will likely come out on top, I still like China but the recent injury of Yi might affect them and to not include longtime national team member Wang Zhizhi, who still plays well and would have been their emotional leader will backfire for them that will lead them to finish second place. Number Three will definitely be Korea and number four will be Kazakhstan, but expect India to pull some surprises here and there.

QUARTERFINALS

E1 - Philippines (6-0) - F4 Kazakhstan (3-3) - Winner: Philippines

F2 - China (5-1) - E3 Jordan (3-3) - Winner: China

E2 - Taipei (4-2) - F3 -Korea (4-2) - Winner: Korea

F1 - Iran (6-0) - E4 - Qatar (2-4) - Winner: Iran

The Philippines will make it to the semis - they will show their superior talent and experience against the come-backing Middle Eastern team while China will beat Jordan, setting up a monumental clash with the host country. Korea will outlast Taipei in a fierce battle that will feature fast-paced basketball and extraordinary shooting while Iran will be too much and eliminate Qatar with a dominating win.

SEMIFINALS

Philippines vs. China - The Philippines will manage to beat China because the loss of Wang and the fatigue from their physical and mentally tough battles early in the tournament will finally take its toll on them.

Iran vs. Korea - Iran will be the bigger, stronger team and overwhelm the Koreans inside with Hamed Haddadi asserting his dominance as the premier big man of Asia while their taller wing players will cover the shooters well.

Third - China will bounce back with a vengeance to take the third place finish and join Iran and Philippines in the 2014 World Championships.

FINALS

Philippines vs. Iran - Buoyed by a sold-out crowd after a huge momentum-shifting and history-defining win against China, everything will go right for the host country. Their shooting will be flawless, their ball-movement will be beautiful, the defense will work like a well-oiled machine and naturalized player Marcus Douthit will hold his own against Haddadi.

The Philippines will make their return to the world stage and head to the 2014 FIBA World Championships as Asia's undisputed king of basketball.

Excited, ecstatic, elated for the FIBA Asia Championship to start, to borrow a line from a famous franchise, let the games begin!

Pilipinas, Puso!

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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