The Gilas Pilipinas in a huddle. | AP File Photo

MVP upbeat despite tough draw in FIBA Olympic qualifier

MANILA, Philippines - The country's biggest basketball patron remains optimistic despite being drawn to heavy opposition in the FIBA Olympic Qualifiers.
Manny V. Pangilinan, the former Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas' and Gilas' longtime backer, expressed his excitement earlier today after the baring of the OQT's groupings.
The national quintent joins New Zealand and France in Group B of the Manila leg's matches. Group A comprises of Canada, Turkey and Senegal -- a team Gilas whipped during the FIBA World Cup in Seville, Spain.
Many spectators and pundits consider the "Road to Rio" an uphill battle. France, which is considered our most daunting assignment, will likely field a roster peppered with National Basketball Association cagers led by the San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker and Boris Diaw, and even Chicago's Joakim Noah.
France is currently fifth in the world ladder. Canada, another team which would likely also feature NBA players, is currently ranked 25th. Turkey clings to the eighth spot while New Zealand is at 21st.
The Philippines sits below in the Manila-OQT teams at 26th.
Senegal, on the other hand, is ranked 31.
But all's well that ends well. With MVP known to make things happen, the national team might be able to draw much-needed help from the NBA's athletes.
You know, like the young prodigy in Los Angeles...

...and of course, our homegrown cager who's carving out a career in Texas.

It might be also safe to assume we're no longer the underdogs in the tournament slated in July.

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