MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine national 3x3 team will benefit from the rescheduling of the FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament (OQT), as they now have more time to prepare for the competition.
The qualifiers were originally scheduled for March 18 to 22 in Bengaluru, India but was postponed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. FIBA announced last week that it will now be held on May 26 to 30, 2021 in the city of Graz in Austria.
"Kung nagsimula 'yung tournament, I don't think we have enough preparation, dahil nag-coincide na rin sa schedule ng PBA at may iba't ibang schedule din 'yung players," admitted former PBA coach Ryan Gregorio, who is also the special assistant to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president An Panlilio.
In an article posted on the PBA website, Gregorio said that with the postponement, all 20 countries participating in the OQT are now "back to zero" in terms of conditioning and preparation.
The Philippines' 3x3 team has yet to return to training as well, given the restrictions in the country because of the health crisis. But Gregorio said they will be back in action as soon as they get the go-signal from the proper agencies.
The SBP recently released its own guidelines on basketball's return, based on the documents given by FIBA. Among the suggestions that the organization posted are limiting practices to just 90 minutes and sanitizing training venues in between sessions.
"As soon as we are given clearance by the IATF to resume basketball and return to play, magkakaroon tayo ng magandang opportunity to play together to improve our chemistry and camaraderie," Gregorio said.
The Philippines will be represented by CJ Perez, Moala Tautuaa, Alvin Pasaol, and Joshua Munzon in the Olympic qualifiers. Munzon and Pasaol are the top-ranked players in the country, while Perez and Tautuaa are part of the national team that won the 3x3 gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games last December 2019.
The Philippines is bracketed with France, Slovenia, Qatar, and the Dominican Republic in the qualifiers.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).