ASIDE from qualifying for the Olympics, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Manny V. Pangilinan also has one wish for the Gilas Pilipinas — be grouped with the Team USA in Rio.
Pangilinan said he has longed for the chance to see the Philippines go up against the Americans, winners of the last two basketball tournaments of the Summer Games, in the 2016 Olympics, giving Gilas an unenviable opportunity to compete against NBA superstars,
“I would like to see the day the Philippines play the US,” said Pangilinan.
But in order for Pangilinan’s wish to come true, Gilas Pilipinas must come out as the winner in the Manila Olympic Qualifying Tournament set July 5 to 10 at the Mall of Asia Arena. The task, however, won’t be easy as the Gilas must overcome France and New Zealand in the group stage and Group A squads Turkey, Senegal, and Canada in the playoffs.
The top two teams in each group will compete in the crossover semifinals, the winner of which will battle for the lone Olympic berth staked in the Manila OQT.
The winners of the Manila, Turin, and Belgrade OQTs will join the nine teams that have already qualified for the Rio Olympics. Group A has the United States, Venezuela, China, and Australia, while Group B will be composed of Argentina, Spain, Brazil, Lithuania, and Nigeria.
Incidentally, Manila will also play host to the drawing of lots to determine where the three winning OQT nations will be grouped in the Rio Games, with Group A having two spots and a lone place in Group B.
Pangilinan prefers that the Philippines will be part of Group A, and not because Group B, the SBP president believes, is the stronger bracket, but because of the United States.
“Two of the three teams will be in Group A, while Group B, which I think is the stronger set of countries, will only have one OQT country,” said Pangilinan.
“That’s the dream,” Pangilinan said, referring to his hope that the Philippines will be drawn with the USA.