Hong Kong start their Asian Games campaign today, more than a week before the opening ceremony. The men's basketball team take on the mystery men of Afghanistan in the preliminary round of group C as they bid for a berth in the main draw. Despite finishing in the top eight at the 2002 Games in Pusan, Hong Kong were surprised to find themselves required to start from the preliminaries where a total of 12 teams have been divided into four groups. Only the top team from each group will qualify for the main draw, where they meet the continent's top guns such as China, South Korea, Lebanon and Japan. 'We were a bit disappointed that the organisers did not consider the results of the last games when deciding the playing format for Doha' said Hong Kong Basketball Association senior sports executive Sam Ho Wai-hing. 'They decided the format in accordance with the recent Asian Championships results and that's why we were not given a direct entry into the main draw. 'Since only one team qualify, a defeat will almost certainly mean a premature exit,' added Ho. 'It is difficult to predict the result, even though I think Hong Kong are the better side, because we have never met Afghanistan before.' Hong Kong is sending a young team to Doha as many senior players were unable to take leave from their jobs. Of the 12-member squad, only Lau Chi-kin, Fong Shing-yee and Yung Man-tak are regulars. War-depleted Afghanistan have recruited most of their players from the US, where they held tryouts among Afghani-Americans, according to their national association website.