For unidentified reason, Asian Basketball Confederations released a new grouping for the 21st ABC Championship. New grouping is as follows.
Group A - China, Philippines, Hong Kong, Uzbekistan
Group B - South Korea, North Korea, UAE, Thailand
Group C - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, West Asia Champ, West Asia Runner-up
Group D - Taiwan, Japan, Qatar, India
Kazakhstan, which was expected to enter the group D, is surprisingly absent and replaced by India. The absence of Kazakhstan will make the DEATH GROUP easier and no doubt benefit both Taiwan and Japan. Taiwan and Japan are expected to breeze by India, right now the only opponent they have to worry is Qatar.
■Japan NT Turmoil
(From Yomiuri Shinbun. With the help from Miki Yamamoto.)
It is confirmed that Isuzu have already informed Japan Basketball Association that 3 Isuzu players, Kenichi Sako, Satoshi Sakumoto, Micheal Takahashi, who are in the Japanese NT roster for the ABC Championship, which is to be held in Shanghai from July 20th, won't be participating in the Championship.
Isuzu doesn't want their players to get injured in the NT activities because the indemnity system is not enough set. Isuzu tells this is the main reason. Mr. Kohama, the head coach of Isuzu, once said; "Japan Basketball Association hasn't discussed at all with us about the NT's activity plan, and on the side of Isuzu who is sending our players, we cannot understand what JABBA thinks." Upon being discharged from the NT for criticizing JABBA, it seems Mr. Kohama still carries distrust toward JABBA.
The first 19 members for the NT roster was announced on June 13th. The final roster will be decided at the beginning of July, but from the first 19 members, the 3 Isuzu members and also Takehiko Orimo (Toyota) and Eric McArthur (Aishin) will higly be out.
In the upcoming ABC Championship, only 2 countries can get the ticket to the World Championship in 2002. But Japanese NT has to go for it without its 5 leading members.
Mr. Numata Hirofumi, the chief for NT reinforcement, says; "There is no talks going to ask those players to join the NT. We don't have time. The NT is now at the stage of completion."