June 9, 2016
Countdown to Manila OQT: 26 days
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP)’s Al Panlilio said in a press conference on Wednesday that organizers of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila, Philippines are “on schedule with (their) preparations” for the event.
“We are preparing really hard for the tournament,” Panlilio, who also chairs the Local Organizing Committee of the event, said.
Panlilio added the LOC seeks a festival-type atmosphere for the Manila OQT, which shall include side events in the build-up towards opening day.
“This is not just a basketball tournament, but a basketball festival. We will have a FIBA OQT Road Show and March to MOA event,” Panlilio said.
SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios added: “On the operational side, we are really just fine-tuning the requirements.”
Barrios also said dates with Gilas games are “almost sold out” already.
SBP’s Ricky Vargas shared bringing the FIBA OQT at home gives Gilas Pilipinas a good chance of winning and qualifying for the Olympics because of the fan support.
“MVP (Manny Pangilinan) came out in full force to bring the World Cup in Manila. For the fans. We failed but we did not stop. We felt if we will bring the OQT to Manila, we have an equal chance of winning the tournament because of our fans,” Vargas said. “They are the reason why basketball is this big in this country.”
SBP President and long-time basketball patron Manny Pangilinan added it was difficult to pass up on an opportunity for fans to witness their national team go up against top-level international competition at home.
“I just want to swim along with the tide. Filipinos love basketball, mahirap talikuran yun. We want to help as much as we can,” Pangilinan said.
Panlilio added: “We set the goals higher, and we hope we qualify for the Rio Olympics.”
As early as now, Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin also asked Filipinos to continue supporting the national team.
"Please, on behalf of the team's efforts, keep us in your thoughts, keep us in your prayers, keep us in your hearts" pic.twitter.com/tCwK2rI6Tf
— Tiebreaker Times (@tiebreakertimes) June 8, 2016
Gilas will battle France on July 5 at the Mall of Asia Arena to open the Manila OQT.