The Philippines’s Olympic dream remains alive.
This after the Philippine Basketball Association announced Wednesday afternoon that it would be lending 17 of its best players to the national pool that will be competing in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament next year with hopes of bagging one slot to the Rio de Janeiro Games.
Committing to support the national team, also known as Gilas Pilipinas, Asia’s first play-for-pay league released the 17-man pool from which the final roster for the Olympic Wildcard will be coming from.
Reigning two-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo leads the pack of players the PBA will be loaning to the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas which aims to form the most formidable team it can send to the OQT July next year.
Also included in the pool are Fajardo’s San Miguel Beer teammate Marcio Lassiter, the Ginebra troika of Japeth Aguilar, LA Tenorio, and Greg Slaughter, Rain or Shine’s Paul Lee, Gabe Norwood, and Jeff Chan, Star Hotshots’ Marc Pingris and Ian Sangalang.
Calvin Abueva of Alaska and Terrence Romeo of Globalport, the men’s national squad’s shock troopers in the Philippines’ silver medal run in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship, have also been included to the pool along with five players from Talk ‘N Text namely Ranidel De Ocampo, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, Ryan Reyes, and rookie Troy Rosario.
The decision came after the PBA Board held a special meeting called by chairman Robert Non.
“The PBA commits to fully support the formation of the Philippine national team,” Non said the San Miguel Governor moments after the meeting held at the PBA office in Quezon City.
After finishing second in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship, Gilas Pilipinas gets one last chance in advancing to the 2016 Olympics through the wildcard phase which will also showcase powerhouse countries from other continents.
Team Philippines has until October 18th to signify its intention to join the qualifiers.
Per the PBA Board’s resolution, the SBP shall name the final roster of 12 players, including one naturalized player, by the end of January 2016.
Those who will not be included in the list will still be a part of the final delegation that would be going to the OQT.
It can be recalled that FIBA, the sport’s world governing body, has earlier warned the SBP of sanctions should it decide to forego joining the Olympic qualifiers next year.