Saturday, August 22, 2015
Gilas Pilipinas' back-up plan if in case it fails to win FIBA Asia Championship
After losing the bid to host the 2019 FIBA World Cup two weeks ago, the Philippines has the option to stage one of three Olympic qualifying tournaments in case Gilas fails to win the FIBA Asia championship in Changsha on Sept. 23-Oct. 3 but that will mean participating in another bid process.
SBP executive director Sonny Barrios said the other day he hasn’t received information from FIBA on the details of the Olympic qualifying tournaments that will be held on July 5-10 next year or a month before the Rio Summer Games begin.
FIBA director of communications Patrick Koller said the SBP and other national basketball federations will receive detailed documents about hosting an Olympic qualifying tournament in the next few days.
There are 12 slots in the Olympic men’s basketball tournament in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil, as host, is guaranteed a berth and the US has an outright ticket by virtue of capturing the FIBA World Cup title in Spain last year. The winners of the FIBA Asia, Oceania and Africa Championships and the top two placers of the FIBA Americas and Europe Championships will also play in Rio. The last three slots are reserved for the winners of three Olympic qualifying tournaments.
FIBA institutionalized the Olympic qualifying tournament format in 2008 with 12 countries vying for three tickets to advance to the Beijing Games. Greece, Croatia and Germany made it. The second and third placers of the 2007 FIBA Asia Championships, Lebanon and South Korea, played in the Olympic qualifying tournament in Athens. The Philippines finished ninth in the 2007 FIBA Asia edition so wasn’t even close to joining the Olympic qualifying event.
In 2012, the Olympic qualifying tournament was held in Caracas, once more with 12 countries – the second placer in FIBA Oceania, the second and third placers in FIBA Asia and FIBA Africa, the next four best teams in FIBA Europe and the next three best teams in FIBA Americas. Jordan and South Korea played in Caracas as the FIBA Asia entries after finishing 2-3 at the 2011 Championships. Jordan was coached by Tab Baldwin, now calling the shots for Gilas. The top three finishers Russia, Lithuania and Nigeria moved on to play in London.
Before the 2008 Olympic qualifying tournament, FIBA staged six pre-Olympic competitions in Bologna in 1960, Yokohama in 1964, Monterrey in 1968, Augsburg in 1972, Hamilton in 1976 and five Spanish cities in 1992. The first five qualifying tournaments had different formats. The 1960 edition welcomed 18 teams. In 1964, there were 10 entries; in 1968, five; in 1972, 12; in 1976, six and in 1992, 25.
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The Philippines has participated in only one Olympic qualifying tournament. That was in Yokohama in 1964 when the national team was made up of Ed Ocampo, Manny Jocson, Boy Arazas, Boy Marquez, Ciso Bernardo, Eddie Pacheco, Felix Flores, Sonny Reyes, Elias Tolentino, Turo Valenzona, Big Boy Reynoso and Ed Roque. The top three finishers Mexico, Australia and Canada went on to play in Tokyo.
The Philippines wound up sixth of 10 with a 4-5 record, beating Malaysia, 85-55, Taiwan, 95-71, Thailand, 98-71 and Korea, 90-58 while losing to Mexico, 90-85, Indonesia, 98-86, Cuba, 84-69, Australia, 71-69 and Canada, 68-64. The Philippines’ games against the three eventual Olympic qualifiers could’ve gone either way and were cliffhangers. Bernardo led the Philippines in scoring with a 12.8 average. Next were Arazas 10.8, Reynoso 10.3, Roque 9.7 and Reyes 9.7.
Next year, the Olympic qualifying tournament will be expanded from 12 to 18 teams. There will be three tournaments of six teams apiece. The second, third and fourth placers of the coming FIBA Asia Championships will be given slots to compete, one for each tournament. A non-qualified Asian country may participate in one of the tournaments if it bids and is awarded the right to host but must be “among the best non-qualified teams.”
“Asia will have at least three teams qualified for the Olympic qualifying tournaments and possibly, a fourth if an Asian country bids and organizes one tournament,” said Koller. “The teams will be drawn for all Olympic qualifying tournaments but we will apply geographical principles. In other words, we should have at least one Asian team per Olympic qualifying tournament (and if an Olympic qualifying tournament is organized in Asia, there will be two in one of the Olympic qualifying tournaments). Format of an Olympic qualifying tournament is two groups of three, each team to play the other two teams in the group, top two of each group to qualify for the semifinals and only the winner of each Olympic qualifying tournament will go to Rio.”
It won’t be easy booking a ticket to Rio through the Olympic qualifying tournaments because the competition will be world-wide and only the winner of each tournament advances. If for instance, the Philippines finishes second, third or fourth in Changsha, it has the opportunity to play in an Olympic qualifying tournament where the other five entries will come from different continental zones. If the Philippines wins the bid to host, the next best finisher in Changsha (fifth placer) will be invited to participate in the Olympic qualifying tournament as another Asian entry.
To avoid complications, the Philippines must win the FIBA Asia championship in Changsha for the outright ticket to Rio. That way, there will be no need to go through the more challenging route of winning an Olympic qualifying tournament. It will also spare the Philippines from possibly participating in another harrowing bid process.