IT'S CONFIRMED: The Philippines will host one of the three Olympic Qualifying Tournaments (OQT)!
"Happy for Pinas. Happy for our people," outgoing Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) head Manny Pangilinan told Spin.ph in a text message, following a FIBA Executive Committee meeting in Geneva, Switzerland Tuesday night.
"God bless Gilas, God bless our country. Doing it for the love of the sport and our millions of Pinoy basketball fans worldwide," he added. (And you're well aware of how grateful we are for your service, sir.)
The winner of the six-team wildcard qualifiers here in Manila will secure a spot at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The other two qualifiers will be held in Serbia and Italy, with each sending one team to the Olympics as well.
Aside from squads from the host countries, the three OQTs—taking place from July 4 to 10—will also pit teams from Angola, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Iran, Japan, Latvia, Mexico, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Senegal, Tunisia, and Turkey.
Filipinos have all the reasons to be ecstatic, as we are about to witness firsthand the biggest hoops event in the country since the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship, where Gilas Pilipinas fell to Iran in the finals but still secured a spot at the FIBA World Cup the next year.
Earlier, the PBA has also committed to sending all players the national team needs. No wonder local hoops aficionados are expecting a more capable showing this time around.
So we're really not to blame if you see us savoring this development, just like these happy people:
What a great day to be a Pinoy basketball fan! Do your best, Gilas! Puso!