WITH the groupings of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments already identified, expect a number of notable National Basketball Association players to play here in Manila.
Along with host country Philippines, powerhouses France and Canada as well as Turkey, New Zealand and Senegal are the ones bracketed in the Manila leg of the three tournaments that will determine, who will complete the cast of countries for the Rio Olympics in August.
Obviously, France, which is ranked No. 5 in the world, is the team that will most likely have the most star-studded NBA players in its roster, provided all, or most of them, will be available to play this July.
The French five might be led by four-time NBA champion and former All-Star Tony Parker, who is expected to team up with San Antonio Spurs’ teammate Boris Diaw, Charlotte Hornets versatile swingman Nicholas Batum, rising Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert, improving Orlando Magic gunner Evan Fournier and the Denver Nuggets’ Joffrey Lauvergne to make their country a powerhouse.
Not to be outdone, Canada, likewise, has its own set of talented NBA players to banner its flag.
Reigning NBA Rookie of the Year and Minnesota Timberwolves star Andrew Wiggins will banner the Canadian flag and he is expected to be joined by Kelly Olynyk of the Boston Celtics, Dwight Powell of the Dallas Mavericks, Anthony Bennett and Cory Joseph of the Toronto Raptors, Melvin Ejim and Andrew Nicholson of the Orlando Magic and Nik Stauskas of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Detroit Pistons’ veteran Ersan Iyasova will spearhead Turkey’s attack.
Senegal also has its own NBA player in Minnesota Timberwolves’ big man Gorgui Dieng.
The Philippines is obviously hoping that Filipino-American Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson can be allowed to play for the country and join forces with former NBA standout Andray Blatche.
New Zealand is the team that will most likely not be able to parade an NBA player.
The Qualifying Tournament here in Manila will be held from July 5 to July 10 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The champion of this leg will earn a berth in the Rio Olympics.
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