Gilas Pilipinas earns ticket for Paris Olympics qualifiers
MANILA, Philippines — Gilas Pilipinas is still in contention for the 2024 Paris Olympics as it earned a ticket to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) after ending its Fiba World Cup with a 96-75 win over China on Saturday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Despite missing the chance to be the best Asian team for an outright berth to Paris next year, the Philippines finished 13th out of the 16 next best-ranked teams that haven’t secured a ticket to the Olympics yet.
The Philippines will be among the 24 countries that will vie for the four tickets to Paris in the OQT next year.
Gilas may have only one of its five games but it surpassed its previous winless and 32nd finish in the 2019 World Cup in Foshan, China as it placed 24th overall and third best in Asia in its second hosting of the World Cup.
The Filipinos ended a nine-game skid dating back to the World Cup five years ago behind Jordan Clarkson’s 34-point explosion — the most points by any Filipino player in the World Cup–surpassing the 33 and 31 points of Mon Cruz in the 1978 edition and the 31 points of Fiba Hall of Famer Carlos ‘Big Difference’ Loyzaga in 1951.
Gilas qualified for the OQT for the third straight time. The Philippines hosted the 2016 edition at Mall of Asia Arena, where it lost to France and New Zealand.
The Filipinos also played in the OQT in Belgrade three years ago but also lost both games to Serbia and the Dominican Republic. Both national squads were coached by Tab Baldwin.
Gilas coach Chot Reyes, who has said that he is ‘stepping aside’ from the program, said he doesn’t know who will be his successor, leaving the decision to the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.
The Philippines will still search for a coach and players for the Asian Games in China starting on September 23 as Reyes has already decided to part ways and the overseas players from Japan B.League like Dwight Ramos, AJ Edu, Kai Sotto, and Kiefer Ravena.