Former FIBA-Asia secretary general Moying Martelino expects Gilas Pilipinas to continue its steady rise in the world basketball ranking as the Filipinos vie for a spot in the Rio Olympics via the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament the Manila leg of the scheduled this July 5-10.
France, set to be bannered by San Antonio Spurs star playmaker Tony Parker, leads a cast of world-class foreign national basketball teams that will compete for the lone Olympic spot at stake in the Manila leg.
“What’s more interesting now is actually the 6 teams that are gonna be in Manila that will fight for 1 slot in the Rio Olympics are teams from around the world,” Martelino told FOX Sports in a recent chat.
“Usually ang hino-host natin is the Asian Qualifying, pero ngayon, it’s hosting the qualifying for teams around the world.”
The Philippines will be bracketed with France, ranked 5th in the world, along with Oceania powerhouse New Zealand in Group B.
Other teams that will also travel to the Philippines for the July Olympian qualifier are Canada, which boasts of young NBA star Andrew Wiggins, Turkey and Senegal which are bracketed in Group A of the competition.
“There’s only 1 Asian team here, the Philippines and then, we have a team here from Europe, you have a team from Africa and a team from Oceania which does not happen in a FIBA-Asia or ABC championships before,” said Martelino currently serving as consultant at the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.
“This is the highest ranking or placing we have in the world basketball and this is mainly because of the training and competition Gilas has done in the past,” explained Martelino, one of the top basketball officials behind the Philippines’ hosting of the 1978 World Championships.
While Gilas will be hard-pressed in its Olympic bid, the experience of going up against to-caliber basketball talent will augur well for the Filipinos in the long run.
“This (Olympic qualifying Tournament) is something everybody would want to see. Yes, we’re cheering for the Philippines, but we’ll be watching world basketball players in the flesh,” he said.
“And again, nung talagang nag-seryoso tayo and we started training very hard, nakita mo naman that slowly but surely, nag-improve na ang ranking natin,” added Martelino. – By Richard Dy
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