Short Olympic qualifier format favors Gilas
Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - November 10, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Olympic world qualifiers feature a short, cutthroat format giving each participant a fighting chance to make the main draw in the 2016 Olympics basketball competition in Rio de Janeiro.

That’s the case even for Gilas Pilipinas which may get a better chance to break back into the Olympics should Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas succeed in its bid to host one of the three qualifying events here in July 5-11.

“We’re really going all out to compete. That’s why we’re determined to host,” Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Sonny Barrios told The STAR.

The Olympic qualifying tourney is a mere six-day event where six teams are divided into two groups in the elimination round. The top two from each group advance to the crossover semifinals where the winners then clash in the finale.

The champion gains a berth in the Olympics.

“(It’s a format susceptible to) element of surprise or element of ‘disgrasya’  (reversal). So we have a chance,” said Gilas team manager Butch Antonio.  

“A team plays a maximum of four games and a minimum of two games. In group phase, (you get) one win and you already have a solid chance to make the next round,” Antonio also said.

San Miguel coach Leo Austria agrees the format is favorable to the weaker teams.

“In a long tourney, weak teams have no chance of winning. Here, you be in your best form and you can pull off a surprise especially if the strong teams take you lightly,” said Austria.

France, Serbia, Greece, Italy and Czech Republic from Europe, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico from America, Angola, Tunisia and Senegal from Africa, New Zealand from Oceania and the Philippines, Iran and Japan are those who qualified in the Olympic wildcard play.

The designated hosts will join the qualifiers, making it an 18-strong cast.

Should a qualifier is awarded the hosting rights, the next best team from the continental eliminator will be tapped to join the Olympic qualifier.

The 18 teams will be drawn into three groups playing in the three different Olympic qualifying tourneys.

“The draw is like the one used in the last World Cup where the three groups will be balanced out with the regional qualifiers being distributed out,” said Barrios.

This means there’s no way the Philippines can find itself in the same group with Asian rivals Iran and Japan or European teams France, Serbia, Greece, Italy and Czech Republic finding themselves in one group.

Whatever it is, Barrios said Gilas Pilipinas will make a serious effort to get the country back to the Olympics for the first time since the Munich Games in 1972.

ACIRC BUTCH ANTONIO GILAS PILIPINAS IRAN AND JAPAN ITALY AND CZECH REPUBLIC LEO AUSTRIA MEXICO AND PUERTO RICO MUNICH GAMES NEW ZEALAND OCEANIA AND THE PHILIPPINES SAMAHANG BASKETBOL
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