The Philippine men's national basketball team said they will be determined to compete for a ticket to 2008 Olympic Games to be held in Beijing, as the coach reacted to Wednesday's draw for the FIBA-Asia Men's Championship, a local newspaper reported on Thursday.
The national team San Miguel-Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes said that the Philippines fell into a "group of death" that includes defending champion China and Middle Eastern powers Jordan and Iran, the Manila Bulletin reported.
"Unfortunately, we're in the Group of Death," the report quoted Reyes as saying on learning of the draw's from the host city Tokushima, Japan.
"This team and this country have come too far to be denied," he however said, adding "it is not our style to dwell on negatives, so our only focus now is how to beat Iran and Jordan."
The Philippines won the title for the SEABA (Southeast Asia Basketball Association) Men's Championship in Ratchaburi, Thailand two weeks ago. Indonesia, the only other Southeast Asian team in the field at Tokushima, finished second to the Philippines in that tournament.
FIBA in February this year lifted a ban that had prevented Philippine basketball team from attending any international match since 2005.
The FIBA-Asia Championship, scheduled on July 28 to August 5, will pick the continent's representative to the Beijing Olympics in August next year.
If China, which is seeded to the Olympics as host country, makes it to the Tokushima final, the other finalist automatically qualifies to the Games. If the Chinese fails to advance to the championship, however, then only the winner will go to Beijing.