THE Philippines gets an initial feel of what 3x3 basketball would be like when the event makes its Olympic debut in Tokyo two years from now as it hosts the 2018 edition of the World Cup on June 8 to 12 at the Philippine Arena.
While the five-day meet doesn’t serve as qualifier to the Tokyo Games, seeing action in the tournament will give the Filipino team a chance to prepare for the three qualifiers lined up for the Olympics.
“Even if it is not a qualifying tournament, it could help create momentum in order to develop a successful (3x3) program. Momentum is also very important. It will help for sure,” said Alex Sanchez, managing director of FIBA 3x3 during the official unveiling of the FIBA World Cup logo on Thursday at the BGC Activity Center.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio agreed that the Filipinos do stand a good chance of qualifying in the Tokyo Games.
“I hope this spur the development of 3x3 here especially that it is an Olympic event,” said Panlilio, who was joined by SBP chairman and senator Sonny Angara, fellow senator Joel Villanueva, Taguig Rep. Pia Cayetano, SBP executive director Sonny Barrios, Smart Sports’ head Epok Quimpo, and Chooks To Go of owner Ronald Mascarinas.
“And there’s equally a good chance for us to make it to the Olympics in Tokyo if we can really develop a program.”
But the FIBA World Cup here has the feel of a qualifier itself as it feature 20s teams in both men’s and women’s.
The SBP said it plans to send the best possible team, with Panlilio disclosing as many as 20 players already signified their interest in suiting up for the Philippines, with only four making the final roster.
“We just have to work with the coaches (led by Eric Altamirano) who will be the best four we can choose and commit to the World Cup. It’s in our country so hopefully, we can come up with the good team to compete,” added Panlilio.
The SBP chief mentioned the likes of Terrence Romeo, Kiefer Ravena, Calvin Abueva, Russel Escoto, Kobe Paras, KG Canaleta, among others, as those being looked at to be tapped for the event, all of whom having experienced playing in either the 3x3 World Cup or 3x3 World Tour.
The PH team that competed in the last 3x3 FIBA World Cup in Guangzhou, China set the best finish the country ever had in the meet at ninth place. The squad was composed of Mac Belo, Karl Dehesa, Glen Khobuntin, and Escoto.
Following the 3x3 World Cup, the country will shift its focus to the Olympic qualifiers to be held just months before the Tokyo Games. Panlilio said there will be three windows available for a team to qualify.
“The first is about (team) ranking. Second, will be sometime in May 2020, and the last one in June 2020,” he said. “So there’s three times for us to go to the qualifying and hopefully, make the Olympics.”