In less than 24 hours the FIBA Asia Championship 2015 will tip-off in Changsha, China. The Americas, African and European championships are already in the books and it is now time for countries from the Asian region to do battle on the hardwood and determine their which nations will punch their tickets to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Only the gold medalists will earn an automatic berth to the Olympics. The second to fourth placing teams will earn spots in final qualifying tournament.
There are 16 teams participating in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championships. They are divided into four groups for the preliminary round and the top three teams from each group will advance to the second round. The advancing teams will be separated into two groups and the top four teams from each group will comprise the participants of the tournament quarterfinals.
The Iranian squad are largely regarded as the favorites to claim the gold coming into the event. They are anchored by former NBA center, Hamed Haddadi. Iran headlines Group A, where they are joined by Japan, Malaysia, and India.
China is fielding the tallest team. They have four players who are 213 cm and taller. They are strong contenders and are expected to give Iran a run for their money. China is in Group C where they will have to deal with strong teams from Korea and Jordan. Singapore rounds out the list of teams in the group.
With an average age of 31, the Philippine team is the oldest team in the competition. Make no mistake, the Southeast Asian powerhouse are not to be taken lightly and are considered to be dark horses to win the event. Their star player is naturalized Filipino and former NBA forward Andray Blatche. The Philippines is expected to finish the preliminary round strong and advance from Group B where they are competing against Palestine, Kuwait, and Hong Kong.
Last but not the least is Group D, which is comprised of Taiwan, Lebanon, Qatar and Kazakhstan.
Eight games are on tap on the opening day, so be sure to tune in and cheer for your favorite team.