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Philippines to host FIBA OQT

The Philippines last hosted a major international basketball tournament during the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship held at two venues, the Mall of Asia Arena and the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--The Road to Rio has just become more colorful for Gilas Pilipinas.

The said national team will welcome five other teams vying for one of the three remaining Summer Olympics basketball slots at its very home as FIBA announced the Philippines as one of the three hosts of the FIBA Olympic Qualifiers on July 4-10.

The global organizing basketball body made the landmark declaration on its Twitter account while also giving Italy and Serbia the nods to host their own wildcard phases.

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas made a successful hosting bid for a huge international basketball tournament a year after losing to China for the 2019 FIBA World Cup hosting rights.

The Philippines is the only Asian country that made the list of finalists.

The announcement assured Gilas, which finished second in the FIBA Asia Championship last October, one of the six spots in one Olympic qualifying group as well as Italy, which made a surprise silver medal finish in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, and Serbia.

It also propelled Lebanon, which finished fifth in the FIBA Asia tilt, to the Olympic qualifying as China's fellow semifinalists were only initially given OQT slots assuming neither will be approved of the hosting right. China earned an outright ticket to Rio De Janeiro after downing Gilas in the FIBA Asia final.

A draw will be held on Jan. 26 that will determine the other five teams that will join Gilas in the tourney.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno