The Philippines has been chosen by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) as one of the three countries to host an Olympic Qualifying tournament scheduled July 4 to 10 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The two other countries are Belgrade and Italy.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) Executive Director Sonny Barrios relayed the good news to The Manila Times on Wednesday morning saying that the decision was made during FIBA’s executive committee meeting in Geneva, Switzerland on Tuesday.
“We in SBP are very happy for our Filipino basketball fans who will witness world class competition in this Olympic Qualifier we are hosting at the Mall of Asia Arena,” said Barrios, who will attend the drawing of lots that will determine the grouping of the 18 participating countries.
The countries playing in the Olympic qualifers are Angola, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Iran, Italy, Latvia, Croatia, Turkey, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Senegal, Serbia, Tunisia and the Philippines.
They will be divided into three groups.
Only the champion team in each group will advance to the Rio Olympics in August.
The last time the Philippines participated in the Olympics was in 1972 in Munich, Germany.
“SBP President Manny V. Pangilinan really worked hard to win the hosting bid for the benefit and enjoyment of the million Filipino basketball fans and once again showcase the Filipino talent in organizing and hosting such a prestigious international sporting event,” Barrios added.
Hosting one of the qualifiers will be an advantage for the Philippines’ Gilas Pilipinas.
The Philippines failed to reach the Rio Olympics in its first attempt after losing to China in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship held in October in Changsha, China.
Gilas Pilipinas national team coach Tab Baldwin currently holds a team practice every Monday at the Meralco gym.
Last year, the Philippines lost to China in hosting the 2019 FIBA World Cup.