Panlilio gains seat in FIBA Central Board

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Panlilio gains seat in FIBA Central Board
Al Panlilio

MANILA, Philippines — After the country’s successful FIBA World Cup hosting, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio now sits in the International Basketball Federation’s powerful Central Board.

Panlilio, who headed the 2023 WC local organizing committee in Manila, has been named to the FIBA’s top-level executive branch, which is tasked with supervising the practice of basketball worldwide.

One of five co-opted members of the body, the current PLDT president and CEO will serve for the next four years.

“Such an honor to be part of the FIBA Central Board 2023-2027,” Panlilio said as he thanked FIBA secretary general Andreas Zagklis for this appointment.

He started serving when the Central Board under new president Sheikh Saud Ali Al Thani met for the first time on the eve of the WC final in Manila last September.

Panlilio’s appointment continues the presence of Filipino officials in the world body.

SBP chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan previously held a seat in the Central Board for two cycles, 2014 to 2019 and 2019 to 2023.

Gilas drawn with Latvia, Georgia

It’s a rough road to the Paris Olympics for Gilas Pilipinas with world No. 8 Latvia and a couple more Top 20 countries standing in its way.

The Filipinos found themselves bunched with the host Latvians and another Euro heavyweight in No. 23 Georgia in the Group A preliminaries of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) set July 2 to 7 in Riga after yesterday’s draw.

Should Gilas finish in the Top 2 of this group, they will proceed to the crossover semifinals against the first and second-ranked teams from Group B composed of No. 12 Brazil, No. 17 Montenegro and No. 67 Cameroon.

Only the winner of the Riga OQT will earn a trip to the 2024 Olympiad alongside the rulers of the other legs in Valencia, Spain; Piraeus, Greece; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Movement in the Gilas camp is expected soon with its opponents and pathway to Paris known, including who would call the shots.

Tim Cone, who steered Gilas to a well-celebrated gold in the Hangzhou Asian Games, is a sentimental favorite to take the helm, and expressed openness to take the job “if the forces are right.”

The Pinoy cagers made it to the last stretch of the Paris Qualifiers with their 24th place finish in the FIBA World Cup at home.

But to say Gilas has its work cut out is an understatement.

The Latvians loom as the heavy favorite.

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