THE Gilas Pilipinas 3x3 men’s team won’t have the benefit of a good rest to kick off its campaign in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
The Filipinos plunge into action right on opening day of the tournament in Graz, Austria as they take on Qatar in the first of their two scheduled games in Pool C on Wednesday.
After about an hour, the quartet of Joshua Munzon, CJ Perez, Mo Tautuaa, and Alvin Pasaol caps the day by going up against Slovenia.
The Slovenians are the highest-ranked team Gilas will be facing in the May 26 to 30 tournament at No. 4 in the world and led by Simon Finzgar, ranked no. 18 player in the world.
The Qataris meanwhile, sit at no. 25 and bannered by 6-foot-3 Abdulrahman Saad.
The Filipinos are currently ranked No. 21.
After a long 16 hour flight with stopover in Dubai, the Gilas team arrived in Austria on Tuesday.
“Travel was generally smooth. They were swabbed tested upon arrival and is waiting for the result,” said Ryan Gregorio, special assistant to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) President Al S. Panlilio, when asked about the team.
Gilas, vying to become the first Philippine basketball team to make it to the Olympics since the 1972 Munich Games, will have a busy schedule ahead of the opener.
The team is booked for a photo shoot and shortly after, will go straight to the gym for its first of a twice-a-day scheduled practice.
The Filipinos take a break on the 27th and then resume their campaign the following day with a game against Dominican Republic (No. 33) and finally, opposite Antoine Eito and No. 10th ranked France.
Of their four matches in the preliminaries, Gilas needs to win at least two to have a shot as one of two teams to advance from its pool to the quarterfinals.
Mongolia, Poland, Brazil, Turkey, and Czech Republic are in Pool A, United States, Lithuania, Belgium, South Korea, and Kazakhstan in Pool B, while Netherlands, Latvia, Croatia, Canada, and Austria are in Pool D.
Only the top three finishers in the tournament will earn berths to the Tokyo Olympics.