GILAS Pilipinas’ quest to the Olympics got a break after NBA player Steven Adams announced he will be unavailable to play for New Zealand in the Manila qualifying tournament this July.
Adams, a center for the Oklahoma City Thunder, cited the unpredictable nature of the NBA playoffs as the primary reason for making himelf unavailable for Basketball New Zealand and the Tall Blacks.
“I will not be participating in the Olympic competitions with the Tall Blacks this summer,” said the 23-year old Adams. “This was a very difficult decision as I take tremendous pride in being a New Zealander.
"The Tall Blacks organization has been extremely supportive and we felt it was best to make an announcement now as preparations have already begun for the qualifying tournament and the Games.”
New Zealand and powerhouse France are in Gilas' bracket in the six-team qualifiers, where the topnotcher will earn a place in the basketball competition of the Rio Olympics.
Gilas is scheduled to play against New Zealand on July 6 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Tall Blacks head coach Paul Henare said Adams would have been part of the squad for the OQT set from July 4-10 in Manila but is confident they would still field a strong team despite the big man's absence.
“Of course we would have liked to have Steven join the 2016 campaign. I’ve said it before that he is world class and would bring plenty to our group, just as we believe the Tall Blacks environment would offer plenty to Steve,” said Henare.
The 7-0 Adams is currently averaging 7.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 25 minutes per game for the Thunder, which currently ranks third in the Western Conference. He was the 12th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.