Gilas Pilipinas already knows how tough the competition will be at the FIBA Olympic qualifier when they were drawn with hoops powerhouses France, New Zealand, Turkey, Senegal and New Zealand. They didn’t know what’s coming straight at them next.
FIBA released the schedules for the upcoming tournament in Manila with the Philippines facing probably the best team on paper in France straight off the bat on Day 1 (July 5).
Already holding a slim chance to survive the elimination phase of the qualifier, the Philippines must bring their A-game from the get-go for them to have a fighting of upsetting this French team, which could be backstopped by NBA stars like Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs, Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz and Nicolas Batum of the Charlotte Hornets.
To make things worse, the Philippines will have no choice but to pick themselves up 24 hours after and brace for another crucial battle with New Zealand on Day 2 (July 6). And while the Kiwis might just have one NBA star on their roster (Steven Adams of the OKC Thunder), they are absolutely no push-over simply because of their huge size advantage.
France and New Zealand will cap up the competition for Group B on Day 3 (July 7). The Philippines will be watching this game closely as its results will probably determine if they will advance to the semifinal round or kiss their Olympic dream goodbye.
In the other group, Canada and its highly-touted lineup will kick off their campaign against Turkey on Day 1 before taking on African contender Senegal on Day 2. With Canada expected to blow out the competition in their group, Day 3 match-up between Senegal and Turkey will likely give the second semifinalist from Group A.
After a day of rest, hoops battle resumes with the semifinal on July 9 and final on July 10 at Mall of Asia Arena in Manila.
For full schedule of the FIBA Olympic Qualifier Manila Leg, check out FIBA Olympic Qualifier Manila.
Photo Courtesy: Ernest Hernandez