ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia (22nd FIBA Asia U18 Championship): It’s do or die time at the Buyant-Ukhaa Arena in the Mongolian capital. Two wins from here will take any team to the 2012 FIBA U19World Championships. And three wins will take them to the very top of FIBA Asia U18 pecking order.
We spoke to the coaches of the quarterfinal teams to predict their top three and asked them for their reasons.
Wang Huaiyu (CHN): “I think Korea and Iran will give us a tough fight for the top spot. I would rate Chinese Taipei and Philippines as serious threats. My thinking is it will be us, Korea and Iran.”
Kim Young Rare (KOR): “We came close to almost beating China. Therefore I would count our chances of playing the Finals against China. And we want to beat them again. Iran is also a very good team.”
Mehran Hatami (IRI): “Iran, China and Korea. These are three teams that really have the strength and skills which are certainly at a higher level than the others. I do think Philippines and Taipei are also good teams. But I’ll go with three I mentioned.”
Olsen Racela (PHI): “Iran, China and Korea. I don’t want to talk about my team yet. I do believe we have it in us to go all the way if we dig a little deeper in our reserves. But whether that will be good enough to beat these three teams with size and a great set of young players remains to be seen.”
Yen Hsin-Hu (TPE): “China, Korea and Iran in that order. We have a huge task on hand in the quarterfinals against Japan. I will start thinking of my team chances after that.”
Hisao Sato (JPN): “China, Korea and Japan. These are three teams that are very well organized and very disciplined. We don’t show any nervousness even the chips are down.”
Salim Chemali (LIB): “To me there are five teams at least. China, Korea, Iran, Taipei and Philippines. Of course the first three would be my favorites.”
Ali Alsanhani (KSA): “Frankly speaking reaching the quarterfinals is a big achievement for us. In my books, China, Korea and Philippines are the favorites. Korea and China have size, strength and also skills. And Philippines are very quick and excellent in shooting.”