The Korea Herald


Korea gears up for Asia hoops championships


Published : Sept. 13, 2011 - 19:25

    • Link copied

The South Korean basketball team traveled Tuesday to China to participate in the 2011 FIBA Asia Championships, which will be held in Wuhan, Hubei, Sept. 15-25.

Sixteen teams ― including Korea, host China and defending champion Iran ― are divided into four groups of four in the biennial event.

This year, the 26th competition will serve as the qualifying tournament for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

The winner will secure automatic qualification for next year’s Olympics, and the second and third place teams will head for the Olympic qualifying tournament.

Korea has been drawn in Group A along with Malaysia, Lebanon and India. In Group B, 2009 and 2010 winner Iran will face off with Qatar, Taiwan and Uzbekistan, while Japan will play against Indonesia, Jordan and Syria in Group C. China is in Group D along with Bahrain, UAE and the Philippines.

At this year’s championships, Iran, which won the two previous events, is aiming to become only the second team in the competition’s history to win the title three times in a row.

Favorite China, which won 14 titles so far but finished second to Iran in 2009, is a strong contender for the title. The 2007 runner-up Lebanon is also considered a dark horse.

The goal for manager Hur Jae and his squad is making it into the semifinals at the championships.

Since sending its first team in 1960, Korea has bagged two gold medals and 11 silvers at the FIBA Asia Championships.

Korea, in fact, is the only team to have made it to the semifinals in 24 of 25 appearances. It failed to reach the semifinals and came in seventh in 2009.

“China and the Middle Eastern teams are strong. There’s going to be tough games. But we’re ready, and we will be working hard to win the Olympic qualifying berth,” Hur said.

Korea meets Malaysia in its opener on Thursday, and is then scheduled to play against Lebanon the following day. For its final group tie, Korea plays India on Saturday.

By Oh Kyu-wook (