ITS goal of making it to the Olympic Games now rendered a long shot, Gilas Pilipinas 3×3 looks to play better and have a respectable finish when it treks back on Friday for the final half of its assignments at the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Austria.
Dealt back-to-back losses in Day One of the qualifiers on Wednesday, the Philippine national men’s 3×3 team tries to at least avert being shut out in the competition with its remaining matches in Pool C against the Dominican Republic and France.
Gilas just could not get its game going early in each of its first two games in the tournament in Graz, leaving the team playing catch-up and eventually losing to Qatar (12-21) and Slovenia (11-21) in that order, on opening day.
The team of Joshua Munzon, CJ Perez, Mo Tautuaa and Leonard Santillan tried hard to overcome the early deficits it was handed with but could not get the momentum it was angling for.
Gilas fell behind, 0-7, at the start of the game versus Qatar, and never recovered from it after.
Abdulrahman Saad led the Qataris with 10 points, padded by four deuces, while Nedim Muslic had nine.
Messrs. Perez and Munzon scored five points each while Messrs. Santillan and Tautuaa had one apiece in the loss against Qatar.
Things did not get better for the Filipinos against Slovenia, with Gilas buried, 3-15, at one point as it struggled on both ends.
Simon Finzgar scored nine points while Gasper Ovnik and Anze Srebovt chipped in six apiece for the Slovenians while Mr. Munzon led the Philippines with seven.
Gilas battles the Dominican Republic on Friday at 6 p.m. in a match-up of winless teams in Pool C and France later at 8 p.m.
After Day One matches, France and Qatar are on top of Pool C with 2-0 records, followed by Slovenia at 1-1. The Philippines and Dominican Republic have identical 0-2 cards.
In the FIBA OQT, three Olympic spots are up for grabs. Tournament format calls for each team playing the other four in their respective pools. The top two teams from each pool qualify for the crossover quarterfinals and then play knockout games all the way to the semifinals.
The semifinals and the third-place games will be known in the FIBA 3×3 OQT as the Olympic Ticket games.
Three-on-three basketball is making its Summer Games debut in Tokyo this year. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo