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23 September
03 October, 2015
11 Terrence ROMEO (Philippines)
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Philippines PBA announce full commitment to Olympic Qualifying Tournament campaign

MANILA (2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament) - The Philippines look as if they are going to be able to hit the ground running when they compete at one of next year's FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments (OQTs).

The aim will be to reach the 2016 Rio Games, and the teams that win each of the three OQTs will do just that.

The Philippines Basketball Association (PBA) on Wednesday threw its full support behind the national team, approving a list of 17 players that coach Tab Baldwin wants to consider for the the OQT.

The PBA has also said it won't stand in Baldwin's way as he trains the players every Monday, beginning in November.

"The PBA commits to fully support the formation of the Philippine national team that will participate in the wildcard Olympic qualifying tournament on 5-10 July," said board chairman Robert Non, in the presence of all members of the board, commissioner Chito Narvasa and president/CEO Chito Salud.

The pool consists of numerous players that featured in the Philippines' 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup squad and at the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship that was just held in Changsha-Hunan, China.

They are Calvin Abueva, Gabe Norwood, Jayson Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, Marc Pingris, Terrence Romeo, Junmar Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter, Japeth Aguilar, LA Tenorio, Greg Slaughter, Jeff Chan, Paul Lee, Ryan Reyes, Troy Rosario and Ian Sanggalang.

Baldwin had wanted FIBA Basketball World Cup players Fajardo, Tenorio, Aguilar, Chan and Lee for last month's tournament in Changsha-Hunan, China but did not have any of them.

The PBA has approved the participation of all the players. - Non

While the PBA have given their approval for players to join the national team, the players still have to commit themselves.

The PBA have set up an ad hoc committee "to get their nod," according to Non.

The ad hoc committee will also work with basketball's governing body in the country, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, Inc, regarding scheduling.

The Philippines were able to clinch a place in an OQT when they beat Lebanon, 82-70, and reached the Semi-Finals of the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship.

Baldwin then steered the team into the Final, which China won 78-67 to claim the only spot on offer for the Rio de Janeiro Games.

In addition to the Philippines, FIBA Asia Championship Semi-Finalists Iran and Japan will represent Asia at the OQTs.

There will be no scheduling conflicts to overcome for Baldwin and his Philippines squad.

"The PBA is adjusting the third conference (Governors' Cup) which shall start after the end of the qualifying tournament on July 10, 2016," Non said.

"The PBA shall allow the PBA players so selected to attend practice sessions once a week, specifically every Monday for 28 weeks starting November, 2015."

The PBA will soon launch the first of their three "conferences" known as the All-Filipino Cup and after that, the second conference which is known as the Commissioner's Cup will commence.

Baldwin is expected to trim his 17-man pool down to 14 at the end of January.

Andray Blatche, a naturalized player who has featured for the Philippines the last two summers, would be able to join the national team training much closer to the OQT if he were to be invited.

There has also been speculation that Filipino-American Jordan Clarkson of the Los Angeles Lakers putting on the Gilas shirt in the future so he, too, would be able to join the team at closer to next summer's competition.