Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City
5 July 2016

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte performed the ceremonial toss at the opening night of the FIBA-Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) between Gilas Pilipinas and France, as both countries vied for a spot in The Road to Rio: 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

Capping the first night of the OQT hosted by the Philippines, Gilas lost to France in a hard-fought battle of 84 – 93 points, with France dominating the last two quarters of the game.

Despite its 10-point lead in the first half, with Andray Blatche securing 21 points and rousing the home court fans, Gilas failed to control the game half way through the second half, dropping its shooting efficiency from 50% down to 41% at the end of the game. However, despite the loss, Gilas put up an impressive fight against the world no. 5.

Considered as the team to beat in the FIBA-OQT, France has four top-tier NBA players in its roster: Tony Parker and Boris Diaw, both from the San Antonio Spurs, Joffrey Lauvergne of Denver Nuggets, and Nicholas Batum of Charlotte Hornets. Batum, however, will not yet be included in the lineup until July 7 as he is still awaiting his new NBA contract with the Hornets.

With Gilas losing the game to France, they are set to face-off with New Zealand tomorrow (6 July) — a must-win battle if they want a ticket to Rio.

The Philippines is hosting three FIBA-OQT tournaments simultaneously with Italy and Serbia from July 5 to 10. There will be three winners coming from each host country that will be given a chance to compete in The Rio Olympics. The Philippines has not made its come back to the Olympics for 44 years, and Gilas hopes to break the dry spell and compete in the FIBA Olympics this August.

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