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Philippines earns ticket to FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament in India

The Philippines booked a ticket in the FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament in India from March 18-22 next year.

FIBA made the announcement in a gala in Utsunomiya, Japan on Friday, the site of the 2019 World Tour Final. Tokyo will play host to the Summer Games next August for the first time since 1964.

The Philippines is in Group Pool C, along with Slovenia, France, Qatar, and the Dominican Republic.

A total of 20 countries will be vying for three slots for Tokyo. An additional spot will be allotted to the winner of the Universality-driven Olympic Qualifying Tournament, to be held in Hungary in April.

Host Japan and top three countries Serbia, China, and Russia were given direct qualification to the inaugural tournament in the men's division. In the women's category, Russia, China, Mongolia, and Romania directly qualified.

Other countries that have qualified include India, the United States, Latvia, Poland, Mongolia, Netherlands, Lithuania, Brazil, Belarus, Canada, Croatia,South Korea, Turkey, Spain, and New Zealand in the men's division.

Meanwhile, for the distaff division, India, Hungary, France, Iran, Netherlands, Italy, Chinese Taipei, Estonia, United States, Germany, Ukraine, Belarus, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Uruguay, Turkmenistan, Indonesia, Australia, and Sri Lanka also advanced to the tournament.

"We're very happy that the Philippines will be competing in the upcoming Olympic Qualifying Tournament for a shot at making it to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics," said Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio.

"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."

The Philippines, which started 61st in the World Rankings at the start of 2019, leapt over 40 spots and went as high as 20 -- primarily due to a collective effort on numerous fronts.

Major players include the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 tournaments, which featured four conferences, and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas' Pambansang Tatluhan.

Also a contributor was the country's international involvement in this emerging variety, with several clubs like Pasig, Balanga, and Basilan participating in several high-level 3x3 competitions over the past nine months. Manila also played host to some high-profile 3x3 contests, including the first-ever Challenger tournament last September.

The pool for the 3x3 squads will be determined at a later date. However, FIBA rules stipulate that at least two of the four must be part of a country's Top 10 3x3 rankings.

To serve as tuneup for the OQT, Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 will open its 2020 season in January.

"We would like to thank the [SBP], headed by chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan and president Al Panlilio, the numerous private promoters, all the players from Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3, and of course, the Filipino people who supported us for the last nine months," bared CTG Pilipinas 3x3 league owner Ronald MascariƱas.

"The journey is far from over as the goal is to not just make it to the OQT. The endgame is to make it to Tokyo. We are all going all out to prepare our national team for this and we hope that everyone joins us in this journey."