Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas gladly accepted the International Basketball Federation’s invitation to replace New Zealand in the Belgrade bubble of the 2021 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Earlier in the day, the Tall Blacks pulled out of the 5v5 and 3×3 OQTs, citing “the spike in the number of high-performance events and the costs of sending teams abroad.”
The Philippines, being the sixth-best team in Asia, became the next qualified for the Asia/Oceania region.
“This is truly a welcome development and we’re very happy that Gilas Pilipinas Men will be given a chance to compete for a spot in the Olympics,” said SBP President Al Panlilio.
“Our Chairman Emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan had a conversation with Andreas Zagklis, Secretary-General of FIBA, who informed him of the development and MVP was very pleased with the news.”
The six-nation meet in Serbia will take place from June 29 to July 4.
And with the Philippines being grouped with hosts Serbia and the Dominican Republic while the other pool having Puerto Rico, Italy, and Senegal, the SBP wants to field the strongest team possible.
First off, the federation is hoping that the naturalization of Angelo Kouame has been done by then. Last Wednesday, the Senate’s Committee on Justice approved the Ivorian’s naturalization. Three more readings and the signature of the president are the final hurdles in him being a full Filipino citizen.
In addition, the federation is looking to align with the Philippine Basketball Association on the roster built and trainings for the tournament.
“We will be coordinating with the PBA to plot our plans moving forward and we’re hopeful that Ange Kouame’s naturalization will be signed into law by then to give Gilas Pilipinas Men that added boost it needs to be more competitive,” shared Panlilio.
Though preparation time for the quadrennial meet will be short, the SBP vows that it will do whatever it can to have a competitive team.
“Whenever we compete in international tournaments, we always aim to send the best team possible to make our Filipino fans proud.”