MANILA, Philippines – Everything about Gilas Pilipinas’ campaign in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship has been geared toward one simple goal: to win the gold medal and clinch the outright berth to the 2016 Summer Olympics.
(READ: Bully moves? MVP furious as Gilas bus delayed, coaches denied tickets)
Now, the Philippines is on the precipice of achieving that goal as they must make one final stand versus Asian powerhouse and host China in the FIBA Asia finals on Saturday, October 3 at 8:30 pm in Changsha, Hunan, China.
(LIVE BLOG: Gilas vs China – 2015 FIBA Asia Finals)
But what happens if Gilas loses to China? What happens to the Olympics dream?
The Philippines, being part of the final 4 of this Asian tilt, is already qualified to participate in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament happening in 2016 from July 5 to 16. (READ: FIBA Asia 101: A guide to the Olympic qualifier in China)
The FIBA Asia fourth, third and second placers will all be relegated to that tournament, where 18 national teams from FIBA’s primary events will participate and will be divided into 3 competitions of 6. The winner from each tilt, for a total of 3 countries, will qualify for Rio 2016.
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That may seem like a pretty decent deal and could calm some nerves, but think again because that tournament will not be limited to Asian foes. It will not be an easy road as Gilas could face some of the world’s tougher teams. It is certainly a rougher route to the Olympics.
The ideal way is to finish the job Saturday at FIBA Asia and improve from their silver medal finish in 2013.
The Philippines reached the finals by defeating Japan in the semifinals while China dethroned defending champions Iran in their semis match-up.
Despite all the trouble it took for the Philippine national men’s basketball team to form and prepare for this tournament, there was never any other desire apart from that gold medal. – Rappler.com
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