PARIS-BOUND Japan, Lebanon, China, Iran, Jordan and FIBA World Cup absentee South Korea potentially stand in the way of the Tim Cone-coached men’s basketball team in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou.
China bouncing back hard at home is a no-brainer—the hosts will surely seek vengeance against Gilas Pilipinas that beat them by a mile in the World Cup on top of retaining the games gold medal at home.
Japan will play inspired after having secured the continent’s Olympic berth after emerging as the best Asian team with three wins and two losses in the World Cup.
Lebanon wound up a rung better at No. 31 over the Philippines in the World Cup to pose the same threat as those flashed by Iran and Jordan, who landed in the last two places in the FIBA tournament.
Cone’s aware of what lies ahead in Hangzhou but is unfazed.
“The Japan team in the World Cup scored big points, scored a lot but we can go out and try to outscore them,” said Cone of the Japanese who averaged 83.2 points and 10.2 three-point shots in five games at the World Cup.
Gilas, Cone said, won’t be having Jordan Clarkson who has to return to his Utah Jazz duties and so are the Gilas players in the World Cup, who also have to return to their commitments in Japan and Korea where they play professionally.
But again, Cone’s not worried.
He said Phoenix Suns’ Yuta Watanabe won’t be around for Japan, and so will the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kyle Anderson for China in Asian Games basketball that starts three days after the September 23 opening ceremony.
Iran’s 7-foot-2 center Hamed Haddadi announced his retirement, leaving behind a FIBA World Cup rebounding record.
Jordan, on the other hand, is expected to parade its World Cup team in Hangzhou led by their naturalized player, former TNT Tropang Giga import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
The Philippines opens its Asian Games campaign against Bahrain on September 26. They are in Group C with Jordan and Thailand.
Image credits: FIBA