by Waylon Galvez
Gilas Pilipinas will battle archrival South Korea in the qualifying round of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup after the two teams were drawn in the same group of the tournament held over the weekend in Bengaluru, India.
The national team and Korea are in Group A of the Asia Cup together with Thailand and Indonesia. Former national team player Jimmy Alapag represented the country during the draw.
In the Asia Cup two years ago in Lebanon, the Philippines lost to Korea during the quarterfinal round.
Defending champion Australia is in Group C with New Zealand, Hong Kong and Guam, while 16-time champion China is in Group B with Chinese Taipei, Malaysia and Japan.
Iran, which lost to Australia in the gold medal round of the 2017 Asia Cup, is in Group E with Syria, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, while in Group D are Lebanon, India, Bahrain and Iraq, and bracketed in Group F are Jordan, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka and Palestine.
The tournament format will have teams play in home-and-away games, which is similar to the World Cup format.
The top two teams from each of the six groups will advance to the Asia Cup, while the third team will advance in the second round for another qualifying tournament.