Asians, Africans fight for crumbs
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - September 7, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Struggling Gilas Pilipinas isn’t alone in its misery in the FIBA World Cup as the rest of Asia, including host China, are in the same boat.

No African team also made the second round.

The Chinese, tipped to get past the first round having chosen the easiest groups as the host team, managed only one win (over Ivory Coast, 70-55) against setbacks to Poland (76-79) and Venezuela (59-72) to join the rush of Asian exits in the hoops showpiece.

“The young Chinese men’s basketball team failed to play at the level they should have, both on offense and defense,” the team posted on its official socia media account.

The exit of world no. 30 Chinese triggered criticism from countrymen, with the Beijing Youth Daily writing: “We have certain advantages in Asia but when faced with strong European and American teams, we are always at a disadvantage.”

Also left to fight for crumbs in the classification for 17th to 32nd were Iran, Korea, Japan, and Jordan, which like Gilas, wound up winless in group play.

The Hammed Haddadi-led Iranians bowed to Puerto Rico, 81-83 before falling to Tunisia, 67-79 and conceding a  65-73 loss to Spain for 0-3 in Group C.

The Koreans suffered the same fate, falling to Argentina, 69-95, Russia, 87-73, and Nigeria in a 42-point blowout, 66-108, in Group B, as did the Jordanians, who stumbled against Dominican Republic, 76-80; France, 64-103; and Germany, 62-96, in Group G.

The Japanese absorbed a 53-point beating from the USA, 45-98, to cap a winless stint in Group E that earlier saw them surrender to Turkey, 67-86, and Czech Republic, 76-89.

Gilas was the recipient of two of the most lopsided losses, 62-108 at the hands of Italy and 67-126 from powerhouse Serbia, which was followed by an 81-84 overtime heartbreaker to Angola.

With no one from Asia reaching the second round, the race for the lone Olympic spot at stake in the tourney is still on.

Gilas itself is hoping to get the incentive for the best Asian finisher in the WC. The Nationals came into last night’s classification game against Tunisia with that in mind.

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