Chooks 3x3 final leg vaults PH to Olympic cutoff
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines' Olympic dream is in its hands.
In an update released by the FIBA 3X3 last Sunday, July 28, the country rose to No. 24 in the world rankings, fortifying its bid to at least earn an invite to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT).
"This is a surprising development even for us," said Chooks-to-Go league owner Ronald Mascariñas. "We started the year at 60 and many said that making it to an Olympic Qualifying Tournament was improbable."
"But with the people who believed in the dream, the team owners, the players, the sponsors, and the hard work of our staff, we were able to crack the top 24."
Before the Grand Finals of the 2019 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 Patriots' Cup, the country was ranked No. 28 with 6,257,888 points.
The Grand Finals, which is ranked as a level-8 tourney by FIBA, garnered 434,452 points in the men's rankings to lift the country 4 spots higher – ahead of Dominican Republic, Canada, Indonesia, and Switzerland.
"Chooks-to-Go as a private promoter has been instrumental in helping the country increase its federation rankings and we are thankful to them," said Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio.
Aside from the local league, the SBP and other private promoters have also helped boost the country's standings.
Gilas 3X3 recently joined the 2019 FIBA 3X3 Asia Cup while also helping Chooks-to-Go in joining more FIBA-sanctioned tourneys.
Being in the top 24 by the end of the FIBA-imposed cutoff set on November 1, 2019 will give the country an automatic berth in the OQT in March 2020.
The OQT will have 3 slots at stake for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Currently, 4 of the 8 Olympic seats will be given to host Japan and 3 of the highest-ranked teams by the end of the deadline.
The last slot will be awarded to the winner of the Universality-driven OQT set on April 2020.
The goal now is to maintain the country's standing, and that can happen by hosting more tournaments and joining international meets.
"The fight is not yet over. Yes, we are happy that we made it to the top 24 but the challenge now is to maintain our standing or go even higher," Mascariñas said.
"We are currently in talks with FIBA to host a Manila Challenger this September. Wilkins-Balanga is also preparing for the Bucharest Challenger this August. We are already preparing for our third conference, which is the Magiting Cup."
The SBP and Mascariñas said that if worse comes to worst and the Philippines does not land in the top 24, they plan on bidding to host the OQT. – Rappler.com