MANILA -- The Philippines is expected to have a smooth ride in the first round of the men’s basketball competition at the 16th Asian Games slated November 12-27 in Guangzhou, China.

This came after the Smart Gilas Pilipinas drew an unheralded Saudi Arabia last Thursday.

“It’s an interesting draw but we couldn’t take Saudi Arabia for granted,” said team manager Frankie Lim, a stern warning echoed by Serbian head coach Rajko Toroman. “It’s going to be real tough but we will prepare hard for them all. But we need to beat Saudi Arabia first, of course.”

If ladyluck sides with the Filipinos, they are set to meet powerhouse Iran, Qatar, Japan, Chinese Taipei and the winner of the Afghanistan-India contest in the second round, where they would need to grab one of the four slots in order to advance to the quarterfinals.

The other preliminary pairings will have Hong Kong battling North Korea in Group A, Turkmenistan and Mongolia in Group C. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)