21 January 2016

PHL To Host Basketball Olympic Qualifying Games

Gilas Alapag
With the second win on Alaska Aces in their best-of-seven series with San Miguel Beermen comes another good news for die-hard and anti-farm team PBA fans, the FIBA Executive Committee awarded the Philippines the right to host an Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

The announcement came late in the evening on 19 January 2016 and it gives Gilas Pilipinas the chance to play before home fans when it guns for a historic place in the basketball competitions of the coming Rio Games.

Meeting in the world basketball body's main headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the FIBA executive committee named the Philippines (Manila), Serbia (Belgrade) and Italy (Turin) the hosts of the three qualifiers - each one staking a place among the world's best basketball teams in Rio de Janeiro in August 2016.

A Philippine basketball team has not played in the quadrennial games since 1972.

The FIBA decision was a silver lining that Filipino basketball fans can hope for the disappointment of missing out on the opportunity to bring the 2019 World Cup of basketball to the Philippines, which the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) lost in a bidding war to China last year.

By winning the hosting rights, the SBP will now stage a tournament among six teams at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City from 4-10 July 2016, with a lone ticket to Rio at stake.

The draw for the tournament will be held a week from now.

SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan was ecstatic in his tweet confirming the country's hosting selection.

According to FIBA, Angola, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Iran, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Senegal, Serbia, Tunisia and the Philippines earned the right to compete in the qualifiers.

In line with the final standings of EuroBasket 2015 and the FIBA World Ranking, Latvia, Croatia and Turkey were invited to complete the lineup, FIBA added.

The SBP released the following statement shortly after the FIBA announcement:
"SBP wishes to express its gratitude to FIBA and its Executive Committee for giving us one of the hosting rights for the Rio Olympics Qualifying. We are indeed pleased and privileged to receive this news. I wish to convey to Fiba President Horacio Muratore and Secretary General Patrick Baumann SBP,s assurances that it will do its best in making the event worthy of an Olympic event. We wish our Smart Gilas team Godspeed in its quest to be part of the Olympic movement again. Laban Pilipinas! Puso!"

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