Hosts Qatar to face Saudi Arabia, Japan and Iran in group stage

Doha, Qatar: Hosts Qatar will begin their FIBA U16 Asian Championship campaign along with Group B contestants Saudi Arabia, Japan and Iran, the draw revealed yesterday.

The Asian Basketball Confederation unveiled the highly-anticipated groupings for the seventh edition of the premier Asian Championship for players under 16 years of age, where 16 teams will compete under four groups at Al Gharrafa and Al Rayyan Indoor Halls in Doha.

The Championship which serves as a crucial qualification platform for next year’s U17 World Cup to be held in Turkiye, will tip off on September 17, while the final is set to take place on September 24.

Defending champions Australia will begin their campaign in Group A which also includes India, Lebanon and Sri Lanka, while Group C sees New Zealand, South Korea, Bahrain and Jordan in action. Group D includes Philippines, China, Malaysia and Kazakhstan.

Al Annabi juniors will launch their campaign against Saudi Arabia in their opening encounter on September 17 at 7:30pm. Subsequently, Qatar will engage in an interesting clash with Japan on Day 2, with tip off set for 7:00pm before concluding their group stage with a showdown against Iran on September 19 at 5:00pm. All of their Group matches will take place at Al Gharafa Indoor Hall.

The grand inauguration of the tournament is set to take place with an exciting Group A clash between Australia and India at 11:30am at the same venue and is expected to offer a dazzling start to the championship.

At last year’s Championship, also hosted by Qatar, Australia stayed unbeaten throughout the event and clinched the title with a dominant win over Japan in the final, while Qatar finished in ninth place.

Malaysia held the inaugural edition of the U16 championship in 2009, followed by Vietnam in 2011 and Iran in 2013. South Korea emerged as victors in the fourth edition in 2015, held in Indonesia, while Australia seized the crown in the fifth edition, hosted by China in 2017.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented Lebanon from hosting the 2019 tournament, before Qatar splendidly played host to the sixth edition last year.