The Philippines men's national team capped its steady rise in international 3x3 basketball by earning a slot in the Olympic qualifying tournament to be held in India next year.
The Filipinos have been clustered with Slovenia, France, Qatar and Dominican Republic in Pool C, FIBA, the sport's world governing body, announced in a ceremony in Utsunomiya city, Japan on Friday.
Gaining automatic berths to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are Serbia, Russia, China, and host Japan.
Al Panlilio, president of Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, the sport's national governing body, said his organization is pleased with the development.
"3x3 is an area where Filipino basketball players can really excel and we’re delighted that a Filipino basketball team will get to test their skills against the world’s best," Panlilio said.
Ronald Mascariñas, who is chiefly involved in organizing local 3x3 tournaments through his company, Chooks-to-Go, said basketball stakeholders look forward to playing past the India competition.
"The journey is far from over as the goal is to not just make it to the OQT," Mascariñas said.
"The endgame is to make it to Tokyo. We are going all out to prepare our national team for this and we hope that everyone joins us in this journey."
The road to the 3x3 qualifiers was a hard-earned one for the SBP.
In February, the men’s side was ranked a lowly No. 59 in the world, but since a 3x3 league opened that month the Philippines' rankings have risen steadily.
The first season of Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 was also launched and played three conferences, all with Level 7 tournament ratings.
The country also hosted the world’s first Super Quest in April, a Level 8 competition, and the first Challenger tournament last September 7, a Level 9 event.
In the 3x3 hierarchy of tournaments, Level 10 is the highest.
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