THREE wins to Rio.
That should well be the battle cry of Gilas Pilipinas in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament which the country will host from July 5-10 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Under the tournament format, the six teams to be drawn into the Manila qualifier will be divided into two groups of three for the preliminaries where the top two from each bracket will advance to the crossover semifinals.
The preliminary games will be held on July 5, 6 and 7. There will be a break on July 8 then the two semifinal games will be played on July 9. The final will be on July 10.
In such a scenario, Gilas will need at least three wins - or better yet four - to clinch the lone ticket to Rio staked in the qualifiers and seal the Philippines' first trip to the Summer Olympics since 1972.
On which teams the Philippines will face in the MOA tournament will be known early Wednesday morning when the draw is held at the Fiba House of Basketball in Mies, Switzerland.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) executive director Sonny Barrios, who will be representing the country in the Mies proceedings, said the odds are stacked against Gilas regardless of how the draw will go.
"We admit our chances of winning the tournament are slim but you can't discount the factor of our sixth man," said Barrios, referring to the home crowd
"At the 2013 Fiba Asia Championships, we saw how our team was inspired by the homecrowd. For the first time in Fiba history, we witnessed the wave. No one was surprised when at the Fiba World Cup in 2014, the Philippines was named the country with the Most Valuable Fans."
"It's the first time we're hosting an Olympic qualifying tournament," Barrios added. "We played in an Olympic qualifier in 1964 in Yokohoma but we didn't make it to Tokyo. Now, we're hosting and it will make a big difference."
Barrios also bared plans to show the games of the Manila qualifiers in movie theaters and in giant screens to be set up in town plazas.