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Gilas gets early date with Parker, France in OQT at completion of draw

Andrew Wiggins (left) and Tony Parker are expected to lead their respective national teams come the OQT in the Philippines. Hannah Foslien/AP (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MIES--Filipino basketball fans will get a chance to see NBA superstars Tony Parker and Andrew Wiggins in action as France and Canada were drawn to the Philippine leg of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

In fact, the host team, Gilas Pilipinas, will test the mettle of Parker and France early into the tournament as both teams were grouped to Group B of the said cagefest at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay on July 5-10 as a result of the group draw held at the FIBA headquarters on Wednesday (Philippine Time). New Zealand completed the three-team field.

Gilas, drawn as Team 3, will in fact take on France right on the very first day on July 5 before locking horns with New Zealand on July 6. France and New Zealand will clash on July 7.

On the other hand, Wiggins and Canada will headline Group A along with Turkey and Senegal.

Meanwhile, NBA Rookie of the Year frontrunner Kristaps Porzingis will take his talents to Belgrade as he and the Latvian team will lead the pack in Group B of a separate qualifier in the said city along with Japan and Czech Republic. The host nation, Serbia, is joined by Angola and Puerto Rico in Group A.

A third OQT will take place in Turin during the aforementioned dates with host country Italy battling Tunisia and Croatia in Group B. The other Turin group has Greece, Mexico, and Iran in a potential collision course.

The top two teams from each group will enter the crossover semifinals with the respective winners facing off for one of the three remaining spots to the Rio De Janeiro Olympic basketball competition.

Gilas hopes to end a six-year wait for the Philippines to be in an Olympic basketball competition and a 44-year dry spell for the senior squad.

(Editor's Note: The schedule was updated as per the fixtures released by FIBA at 3:39 a.m. Wednesday, Philippine Time.)

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno