Gilas Pilipinas plans busy schedule for Olympic Qualifiers

Gilas Pilipinas. (Photo: FIBA)

Gilas Pilipinas, the national basketball team of the Philippines, is gearing up for a demanding schedule as it prepares for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Latvia this July 2024.

Erika Dy, Executive Director of Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), outlined the team’s packed agenda during a Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum held at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila.

The team will begin its training on June 22 at the Inspire Sports Academy in Laguna. Following this, they will travel to Turkey and Poland for a series of tune-up games against their counterparts, aiming to fine-tune their strategies and build team cohesion.

The highlight of their schedule is the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Latvia from July 2 to 7.

Coach Tim Cone will lead the reigning Asian Games champions as they strive to secure a spot in the Paris 2024 Olympics.

“We’re grouped with the host team Latvia and Georgia, both powerhouses, and we’re really looking forward to competing against them,” Dy said.

Should they qualify for Paris, the Nationals will then prepare for the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers, facing New Zealand and Hong Kong at the MOA Arena in November. The team will reconvene six days before their game against New Zealand on November 21.

Dy emphasized the importance of having a consistent roster for these competitions, saying, “Premise ni coach Tim, we have the same roster every time. Kapag pinagsama-sama mo ‘yung short training periods, maga-accumulate sila.”

Dy highlighted the efficiency of the current program, noting the commitment of high-level players. “The program is working. He (Cone) has secured the best talents that we have. In the past, hirap na hirap tayo. Because of these shorter training periods, mas madali mag-commit and because high-level players ang mga ito, mas madali sila mag-pickup,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Gilas women’s team is also set for a busy year, looking forward to the Jones Cup in June and the FIBA Women’s World Cup Pre-Qualifying Tournament in August in Rwanda.

During the forum, Dy also provided updates on the naturalization process for Bennie Boatwright, who was recently presented before the senators during a consultative meeting.

Additionally, the SBP is in the process of acquiring naturalization papers for 6-foot-4 Nigerian Favour Onah, currently playing for UP in the UAAP, to join the Gilas women’s team under coach Pat Aquino.

With these preparations and strategic planning, both the men’s and women’s teams are aiming to make significant impacts in their respective international competitions.