Final Rio draw in Manila

Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - January 28, 2016 - 9:00am

MIES – FIBA sport and competitions director Predrag Bogosavljev said the other day the final draw for the 12-team Olympic basketball tournament in Rio de Janeiro will be held after the gold medal game of the qualifying tournament at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena on July 10.

Bogosavljev said the Olympic qualifiers in Belgrade, Serbia and Turin, Italy, will begin on July 4 and end on July 9 while the Manila tournament starts on July 5 and finishes on July 10. The winners of the Serbia and Italy tournaments will be known before the final of the Manila event.

The Rio draw will be conducted at the FIBA House of Basketball in this Swiss city on March 11 with three slots vacant. The winners of the three Olympic qualifiers will fill the slots. The teams qualified for Rio so far are 2014 World Cup champion US, Spain and Lithuania for finishing 1-2 in EuroBasket, FIBA Asia champion China, FIBA Africa champion Nigeria Venezuela and Argentina for finishing 1-2 in FIBA Americas, FIBA Oceania champion Australia and host Brazil.

Bogosavljev said a press conference will be called right after the Manila final. The final Rio draw will be conducted during the press conference. SBP executive director Sonny Barrios said it’s an honor for the Philippines to host the final Rio draw.

Barrios and Bogosavljev met for over an hour at the FIBA office to discuss matters related to Manila hosting the qualifier. Bogosavljev said he will arrive in Manila with FIBA Asia secretary-general Hagop Khajirian of Lebanon for a two-day inspection tour on Feb. 28. FIBA director of TV and media rights Paul Stimpson will also make a visit in April to finalize TV arrangements with the Philippine host network. A technical team from Swiss Timing will fly in three days before the start of the event to finalize software details for producing statistics and TV graphics. Swiss Timing, the service provider for the Olympics, is with the Omega/Swatch group.

Bogosavljev said Manila will provide for at least four hotels – one for the six participating teams, one for VIPs, one for referees and FIBA staff and one for media. When he arrives for the inspection visit, Bogosavljev will check the MOA Arena map consistent with the terms of the Host Nations Agreement, visit the hotels to be used during the tournament, look over local transportation arrangements (including a dedicated bus for each team), review game schedules and make sure of the IT services, including the media accreditation system.

Bogosavljev said he would like to meet the designated event director, the IT man-in-charge, the head of media, the TV point person, the head of accreditation, the head of import/export and the venue manager.

“Marketing and the assignment of officials will be done out of FIBA,” said Bogosavljev. “IT may be either FIBA or FIBA Asia. Coordination in organizing the event will be done with FIBA Asia.” Media applications for credentials will be done online with FIBA starting May 2.

Bogosavljev said the timing of games must consider live coverage for the visiting teams. If the French team plays at 8 p.m., it will be shown live in France at 2 p.m. In the Manila tournament, there are two teams from Europe (France and Turkey), one from the Americas (Canada), one from Africa (Senegal), one from Oceania (New Zealand) and host Philippines.

Bogosavljev said of the six bidders to host the three qualifiers, Turkey had the highest offer. But FIBA chose the Philippines, Serbia and Italy as hosts for other considerations. Turkey, however, was picked to join the 18 participating countries because it is ranked No. 8 in the world. The only country in the top 10 not participating in the Olympics or the qualifiers is No. 7 Russia. Bogosavljev explained that Russia did not qualify for the 2014 World Cup and finished No. 17 in last year’s EuroBasket where Turkey was No. 14.

Because the three hosts were among the 15 seeds, three replacements were brought in. Latvia was No. 8 in EuroBasket and Croatia, No. 9 so they were elevated. Lebanon should’ve been invited as the next highest finisher at the last FIBA Asia Championships but FIBA chose Turkey instead. The Lebanese federation is not in good standing with FIBA at the moment although its suspension has been lifted.

Barrios said even before the draw, the SBP was swamped by callers inquiring about the availability of tickets. FIBA director of marketing and media services Frank Leenders said because Filipinos are knowledgeable about basketball, they will easily recognize the NBA players on the Turkish, French and Canadian teams. “It will be quite an experience for Filipino fans because big names will be coming over for sure,” said Leenders.

Barrios said he expects a sell-out on the five playing days. The Philippines plays France on July 5 and New Zealand on July 6. If Gilas finishes first or second in its group, the host team will advance to the semifinals to play either Turkey or Canada on July 9. The two semifinal winners will vie for the ticket to Rio in the final on July 10.

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