By JONAS TERRADO
The hopes of Gilas Pilipinas to gain a spot in the Tokyo Olympics came to an end Friday, May 28, following a 22-11 loss to Dominican Republic in the FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Graz, Austria.
Playing without Mo Tautuaa due to an injury, the team of Joshua Munzon, CJ Perez and Santi Santillan suffered another flat start before the Dominicans, composed of Henry Valdez, Bryan Platini, Cesar Reyes and Carlo Cabrera, slammed the door on Gilas’ Olympic dream.
Gilas 3×3 made it interesting by scoring five straight points to pull within four, 14-10, only for the Dominican Republic to respond with an 8-1 windup to seal the win.
Coach Ronnie Magsanoc’s squad tried to wrap up its disappointing campaign in Pool C on a winning note later in the day but fell 15-14 to unbeaten world No. 10 France.
Munzon, Perez and Santillan kept it close at the start but France showed why it is one of the world’s best teams in the halfcourt game with Dominique Gentil, Charly Pontens, Raphael Wilson and Antoine Eito preventing an upset.
Gilas 3×3 finished dead last in the five-team Pool C after opening the campaign two days earlier with losses to Qatar (21-12) and world No. 4 Slovenia (21-11).
The Filipino cagers came to Graz hoping to secure one of three slots to the Summer Games, but were limited to only two training bubbles at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.
A last-minute change was also made with Santillan being placed in the four-man roster instead of Alvin Pasaol, who missed the first training bubble due to health and safety protocols.