Philippines aims to send ‘best team possible’ for Olympic qualifiers
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines has committed to participate in the Fiba Olympic qualifying tournament in Serbia following New Zealand’s pullout from the competition.
The world’s basketball governing body announced Friday that Gilas Pilipinas will be headed to the OQT for being the next best ranking team in the Asia-Oceana region after New Zealand decided against participating due to rising costs of sending a team abroad amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is truly a welcome development and we’re very happy that Gilas Pilipinas Men will be given a chance to compete for a spot in the Olympics,” said Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas President Al S. Panlilio in a statement.
“Our Chairman Emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan had a conversation with Andreas Zagklis, Secretary General of FIBA, who informed him of the development and MVP was very pleased with the news.”
SBP has also pledged to send the best roster for the qualifiers, which grants slots for the coronavirus-delayed Tokyo Olympics, from June 29 to July 1.
The national team is bundled with the host Serbia and Dominican Republic in Group A.
“Whenever we compete in international tournaments, we always aim to send the best team possible to make our Filipino fans proud,” also said Panlilio, who is hopeful that naturalization candidate Angelo Kouame will be able to join the team by then.
Kouame’s bid for a Filipino citizenship just passed the Senate justice committee this week.
“We will be coordinating with the PBA to plot our plans moving forward and we’re hopeful that Ange Kouame’s naturalization will be signed into law by then to give Gilas Pilipinas Men that added boost it needs to be more competitive,” Panlilio said.