PH to join 5x5 OQT as NZ backs out

Gilas Men are now heading to the 5x5 OQT. Rick Dela Cruz (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Gilas Pilipinas Men might be sending two teams to the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.

FIBA announced on Friday night that Gilas Men's 5x5 team will now be joining one of the four OQT's for full court hoops as New Zealand begged off.

"Due to the spike in the number of high performance events and the costs of sending teams abroad, the Basketball New Zealand board has made the difficult decision to withdraw the Tall Blacks from the OQT in Serbia and the New Zealand men's 3x3 team from the 2021 OQT in Austria," Basketball NZ said in a statement earlier in the day.

In response, FIBA said, "Philippines will replace New Zealand at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2020 in Belgrade, Serbia as the next best team from the Asia-Oceania Region in the FIBA World Ranking Men presented by Nike."

Gilas Men will be grouped alongside Dominican Republic and host country Serbia in Group A of the Belgrade OQT from June 29-July 4.

The top two teams from the said group will battle the best two team from Group B, consisting of Puerto Rico, Italy, and Senegal, in the knockout crossover semifinals with the winners slugging it out for one of the remaining four spots in the Olympic men's 5x5 basketball event in Tokyo.

Gilas Men have already booked a seat in the FIBA 3x3 OQT in Graz, Austria slated this May.

Meanwhile, Basketball NZ said that they will now shift their focus on this year's FIBA Asia Cup, the 2022 FIBA 3x3 World Cup, the 2023 FIBA World Cup, and the 2024 Paris Olympics.

FIBA, on the other hand, "will evaluate the situation and decide upon potential further actions regarding New Zealand's withdrawal at a later stage."

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