Paris Olympics

FAST FACTS: Gilas Pilipinas’ last shot at Paris Olympics

Delfin Dioquino

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FAST FACTS: Gilas Pilipinas’ last shot at Paris Olympics

FAN FAVORITE. Justin Brownlee and Gilas Pilipinas wave to the crowd after winning over Hong Kong in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers.

FIBA

Gilas Pilipinas hopes to end the Philippines' decades-long absence in Olympic basketball as it sees action in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament

MANILA, Philippines – It has been over five decades since the Philippines sent a basketball team to the Olympics in the 1972 Munich Games.

This group of Gilas Pilipinas hopes to end that drought as it sees action in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Riga, Latvia, that will run from July 2 to 7.

It will be the Philippines’ last shot at the Paris Games after it failed to clinch an Olympic berth rewarded to the best Asian nation in the previous FIBA World Cup – a distinction that went to Japan.

Here are some fast facts about the Nationals’ road to the Olympics:

Key dates

Formidable competition awaits the Filipinos in Riga as they face host and world No. 6 Latvia and No. 23 Georgia in Group A.

The 37th-ranked Philippines will play two games in as many days, with Latvia up first on Thursday, July 4, at 12 am, Manila time.

It will then be a quick turnaround for the Nationals as they play again in less than 24 hours against Georgia at 8:30 pm on July 4.

The two teams pose a significant challenge to the Filipinos, with Latvia and Georgia both making the last 16 of the World Cup, where the Philippines finished 24th.

Latvia even went as far as the quarterfinals, only losing by a single possession to eventual champion Germany, as it placed fifth.

Tournament format

Aside from the Philippines, Latvia, and Georgia, three more teams will take part in the OQT in Riga as Brazil, Cameroon, and Montenegro lock horns in Group B.

Brazil ranks 12th in the world, Montenegro is 17th, and Cameroon is 68th.

The top two teams from each group will advance to the crossover semifinals, where the No. 1 teams from Groups A and B will face the No. 2 squads in their opposite groups in a pair of knockout matches.

Winners of the semifinals face off in a do-or-die clash to determine which team will punch a ticket to the Paris Games.

Who will qualify?

Only the last team standing in Riga will qualify for the Olympics.

It is the same case in the other three OQT legs to be held simultaneously in Valencia, Spain; Piraeus, Greece; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Spain, Lebanon, Angola, Finland, Poland, and the Bahamas duke it out in Valencia; Greece, Slovenia, New Zealand, Croatia, Egypt, and Dominican Republic battle in Piraeus, and Puerto Rico, Italy, Lithuania, Mexico, Bahrain, and Ivory Coast compete in San Juan.

The winners of the four OQT legs will complete the 12-team Olympic cast bannered by defending champion USA and host France, which disputed the gold medal in the previous Tokyo Games.

Canada, Germany, Serbia, South Sudan, Australia, and Japan also qualified. – Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.