Philippines may not bid as host of Rio elims

MANILA, Philippines - SBP executive director Sonny Barrios said yesterday there is no definite decision on whether the Philippines will participate in one of three Olympic qualifying tournaments that FIBA is staging on July 5-10 next year to determine the last three entries for the 2016 Rio Summer Games.

"Right now, the topic is up in the air," said Barrios. An SBP meeting will be called soon to discuss the issue.

Gilas team manager Butch Antonio said that with participation still to be resolved, it is highly unlikely the Philippines will bid to host the Olympic qualifying tournament that it has earned the right to play in by virtue of a second place finish at the recent 28th FIBA Asia Championships in Changsha.

Nine countries are guaranteed slots in basketball at the Rio Olympics - host Brazil, reigning World Cup champion US, Oceania champion Australia, AfroBasket champion Nigeria, EuroBasket finalists Spain and Lithuania, FIBA Americas finalists Venezuela and Argentina and FIBA Asia champion China. Three slots are reserved for the winners of the three Olympic qualifying tournaments.

The allocation of slots for the three Olympic qualifying tournaments is broken down into five from Europe, three from the Americas, three from Asia, three from Africa and one from Oceania. The teams are the next best placers after the qualifiers from each FIBA continental zone. Three other slots are available for host countries which will be determined through a bidding process.

The minimum bid to host an Olympic qualifying tournament is 1.75 Million Euros, it was confirmed by FIBA communications director Patrick Koller. The amount is equivalent to P91.4 Million. Countries interested to host must express their intent to bid by the end of this month. The bidding process will close on Nov. 23 when the FIBA Executive Committee will convene to decide the hosts. The FIBA Executive Committee is made up of president Horacio Muratore of Argentina, secretary-general Patrick Baumann of Switzerland, treasurer Ingo Weiss of Germany and members Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico, Turgay Demirel of Turkey, Hamane Niang of Mali, Jose Luis Saez of Spain, Burton Shipley of New Zealand and Mark Tatum of the US.

Countries that earned the right to play in the three Olympic qualifiers are New Zealand from Oceania; Angola, Tunisia and Senegal from Africa; Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico from the Americas; France, Serbia, Greece, Italy and the Czech Republic from Europe and the Philippines, Iran and Japan from Asia.

Hosts may be selected from the countries qualified to play or from countries that played in a continental or regional championships without qualifying. If a country that qualified wins a bid, the next non-qualified country in the continental championships will advance. In the case of Asia, if the Philippines is chosen to host, the fifth placer in Changsha - Lebanon - will be awarded a playing slot.

Koller said the Philippines will be welcome to bid for the hosting rights of an Olympic qualifying tournament.  "Based on the Philippine performance at the FIBA World Cup in Spain last year, I think the national team will be competitive in the Olympic qualifying tournament," said Koller. In Spain, the Philippines lost to Croatia, 81-78, in overtime, to Greece, 82-70, to Argentina, 85-81 and to Puerto Rico, 77-73 and beat Senegal, 81-79, in overtime. Three of the four losses could've easily gone the other way.

There is speculation that Canada, Italy, Turkey and Russia may submit bids to host an Olympic qualifying tournament. After the host countries are determined and FIBA announces the 18 teams to participate in the three Olympic qualifying tournaments, a draw will be held on Nov. 24, applying geographical and quality principles in order to balance the groups. The draw will set six teams for each Olympic qualifying tournament.

At least one Asian country will be assigned to an Olympic qualifying tournament. Koller said if an Olympic qualifying tournament is organized in Asia, there will be two Asian countries in one of the three competitions. He said the format of each Olympic qualifying tournament will involve two groups of three, each team to play the other two teams in the preliminaries with the top two from each bracket advancing to the semifinals and the winners to dispute the lone ticket to Rio in the final.

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