Gilas Pilipinas takes OQT spot as New Zealand backs out

Published February 26, 2021, 7:53 PM

by Jonas Terrado

Photo from FIBA

FIBA announced Friday, Feb. 26, that the Philippines will take the spot of New Zealand in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament later this year in Belgrade, Serbia.

The world governing body said the Philippines was placed in the OQT in lieu of the Kiwis by virtue of having the next best team from the Asia-Oceania region in the FIBA world rankings.

New Zealand earlier in the day backed out of the OQT due to “spike in the number of high performance events and the costs of sending teams abroad” as the COVID-19 pandemic led to rescheduling of several international tournaments, including the Tokyo Olympics.

Gilas failed to secure a spot in the OQT after a last place finish in the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China led to a drop in the world rankings.

The OQT is scheduled June 29 to July 3 in Belgrade with the final Olympic slots on the line.

If Gilas Pilipinas decides to fill the slot, it will face host Serbia and Dominican Republic in Group A.