2011 FIBA-Asia Champions Cup: Teams, Groupings, and Players to Watch!

(image from FIBAAsia.net)

Can Mahram-Tehran of Iran repeat as Champions Cup champs?
(image from FIBAAsia.net)

The 2011 FIBA-Asia Champions Cup will commence on May 28, 2011 and end on June 5, 2011 at the PhilSports Arena, Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines. It will be the 22nd staging of the tourney and is co-organized by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and FIBA-Asia.

It pits 10 club teams from around the continent to vie for the coveted title of Best Club Team in Asia.  This is sort of a misnomer of course since the roster of teams is made up mostly of clubs from the Middle East, with only 2 teams from Southeast Asia and none from the traditionally competitive nations of Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and China.

Despite this, a lot of people are still looking forward to this tournament, and since it will be held here in the basketball-mad country of the Philippines, it is sure to draw sizeable crowds. Especially anticipated is the performance of the hometown bets, Smart-Gilas.

Can Mark Barroca lead
Smart-Gilas to a great result?
(image by Karl Moreto)
The Gilas team, composed mostly of amateur players, played well enough to qualify for the Final Four of the just-concluded PBA Commissioner’s Cup (they lost to Ginebra in the semis), and many locals are expecting them to have a good showing in the annual caging meet.

Gilas’s head coach, Serbian Rajko Toroman, is also hoping for AT LEAST a 2nd place result for his team, and will use this tournament to tune up the boys for the FIBA-Asia Men’s Championship later in the year.

It’ll be tough, though, as defending champs Mahram of Iran and perennial powerhouses Al-Rayyan of Qatar, Al-Riyadi Beirut of Lebanon, and ASU Sports of Jordan will be present to thwart the Filipinos’ hopes.

Mahram, Al-Riyadi and Al-Rayyan are bracketed in one group, however, which might give the Philippines a not-so-hard time in the preliminaries. If this is so, then Smart-Gilas can look forward to smooth sailing perhaps until the semifinal round, where their true mettle shall be put under the microscope.

22nd FIBA-Asia Champions Cup Groupings
(image from FIBAAsia.net)
Some of the players that the public should take note of are the national team stalwarts of their respective countries. Iran’s Mahdi Kamrani, Samad Nikkhah Bahrami, Hamed Afagh, and Asghar Kardoust are all donning the Mahram jersey. Jordan’s national mainstays, Sam Dahgles, Zaid Abbas, Enver Soobzokov, and Islam Abbas will banner ASU’s charge. Lebanon has Joe Vogel and possibly Fadi El-Khatib to power Al Riyadi.

All in all, it promises to be a really exciting tournament, and will certainly prime things up in the region for September’s Men’s Championship in Wuhan, China.

Tournament Elimination Round Schedule
(image from FIBAAsia.net)
Mehdi Kamrani of Iran is one of the top guards in Asia
(image from FIBAAsia.net)
Will Fadi El-Khatib star for the Al-Riyadi squad?
(image from FIBAAsia.net)

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