April 25, 2024

Tim Cone makes frank assessment of Gilas' OQT chances after Paris Olympics basketball draw

Tim Cone makes frank assessment of Gilas
Tim Cone and Gilas Pilipinas will be competing in one of four Olympic Qualifyng Tournaments, which will be hosted by Latvia. | Photo (c) FIBA

"If the Olympics happens, it happens."

Coach Tim Cone got frank and realistic regarding Gilas Pilipinas' chances of reaching the 2024 Paris Olympics after the men's basketball draw was completed a few days ago.

The 12-team field was divided into three. Group B features FIBA World Cup champion Germany, host France, lone Asian qualifier from the World Cup Japan, as well as the winner of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Latvia.

"We're still locked in to getting back together in June and playing Latvia and Georgia. Those are the two games that we gotta be worried about," he said.

That OQT in Riga would see 37th ranked Philippines taking on the hosts and world number six Latvia and world number 23 Georgia. The other group features 12th ranked Brazil, 17th ranked Montenegro, and 68th ranked Cameroon.

Only the winner will reach the group stage of the Olympics.

[ALSO READ: Olympic dreams: If Gilas Pilipinas make it to Paris, this is their basketball bracket]

"It's a long road to get there at this point. But what better bracket to have than rival Japan, the world champion Germany, and the host country France? You couldn't ask for anything more," Cone said.

Still, the national team coach has plenty of confidence in his squad, which got together in February for the first window of the 2025 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers. They've already secured two wins against Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei.

Gilas Pilipinas last competed in the OQT back in 2021. The Tab Baldwin-led squad very nearly upset Serbia before bowing to the Dominican Republic. It was Italy who secured the Olympic berth.

Cone believes this iteration of Gilas could have a chance too.

"We're sending our best 12 players. We think they make a really strong team," Cone said. "We're gonna go there with the idea that we can win some games." "The task ahead is not impossible. It's hard, it's tough, but it's not impossible."