Who will be the Final 12 for Gilas Pilipinas?
The answer will be known today as national coach Tab Baldwin announces his national team roster that will seek a berth in the Rio Games via the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) next month at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Baldwin will bare his squad after the final game of the national team in a tournament in Italy in a teleconference with Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas officials and members of the media.
The event in Bologna caps international training for the national team which began with a nine-day camp in Greece followed by a tuneup match with Turkey in Istanbul.
The Nationals come home on 28.
Baldwin’s squad is bracketed in Group B with France and New Zealand, while in Group A are Turkey, Canada and Senegal.
The top two teams from each group advance to the crossover semifinals.
The winners then dispute the lone spot for the Olympics.
The last time the Philippines earned a spot in the basketball competition of the Summer Games was during the 1972 Munich Olympics, a team that finished 13th overall with a 2-6 record.
Baldwin started training the national team in mid-May right after the PBA Commissioner’s Cup. Injuries to 7-footer Greg Slaughter, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, Marcio Lassiter and Paul Lee hurt the team’s preparation, however, as Baldwin made do with what was left.
Of the 12 spots that Baldwin needs to fill in, one player is a already shoo-in: naturalized player Andray Blatche, a 6-foot-11 former NBA campaigner who will don the national team colors for the third time.
Blatche, formerly of the Washington Wizards and the Brooklyn Nets, made his debut during the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain, and then suited up for Gilas anew in last year’s FIBA Asia Championship in China.
The national team came up short of claiming an outright berth in the Rio Games when it lost to China in the gold medal match of the Asian championship, the Olympic qualifier for Asia.
Other members of the national team pool training in Europe with Baldwin are Jayson Castro, Calvin Abueva, Terrence Romeo, LA Tenorio, Japeth Aguilar, Jeff Chan, Gabe Norwood, Troy Rosario, Ranidel de Ocampo, Ryan Reyes, June Mar Fajardo, Marc Pingris and Bobby Ray Parks Jr.