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Baldwin hopes Gilas Pilipinas gets homecourt edge for OQT

MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tab Baldwin is ready to offer a prayer for the Philippines to become one of 3 host cities for the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament slated for July next year.

“That would mean a lot to our fans,” he said of the potential hosting opportunity. “At the end of the day, we do this for the fans. We can be selfish as the team, we can be wrapped up in the effort ourselves, and that’s fair enough. We’re the ones sweating and bleeding, but at the end of the day, we do this for the fans.”

The Philippines is one of 10 others bidding to host the wildcard tourney set to take place simultaneously in 3 different cities around the world. Eighteen teams will be divided into 3 groups, and the winners from each group will book a slot to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro by August. 

Baldwin believes playing before a very passionate, basketball-loving home crowd can certainly boost the national team. 

“If we can play games in front of the fans and have our fans be our sixth man, that’s huge,” Baldwin remarked. “That’s huge for us; that’s huge for the country. We should all say an extra prayer and hopefully that will happen.” 

Other nations vying to host are the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Iran, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Serbia, and Turkey. 

World basketball body FIBA announced Thursday, November 12 it has postponed the decision and announcement of hosts from the original November 23 to January 11. 

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas already sent out bidding requirements to FIBA’s Geneva headquarters to comply with the November 11 deadline.

The Philippines endured the hostile home crowd in China during the gold medal game of the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship, where Gilas fell to the hosts and settled for silver in October. – Rappler.com