Gilas Pilipinas will now be able to take part in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2020 in Belgrade, replacing New Zealand.
The international basketball federation (FIBA) made the decision following the announcement of the National Federation of New Zealand (BBNZ) to withdraw from all qualifiers in men’s basketball and in the 3x3 OQTs.
Officials in New Zealand’s basketball governing body said Friday that the NZ men’s basketball team has pulled out due to costs associated with COVID-19 protocols and international travel.
BBNZ said it has agreed to prioritize “events that qualify into long-term cycles,” after consulting with senior players and the players’ association.
In a statement, the FIBA said the decision was in accordance with the respective rankings of countries involved.
New Zealand is currently ranked 25th in the world, and no. 3 in Asia/Oceania zone.
On the other hand, the Philippines is six rungs lower at no. 31st in the world, and sixth in the region.
The Philippines was chosen because it is the "next best team from the Asia-Oceania Region in the FIBA World Rankings."
According to the FIBA OQT format, the only squads that can join are the 16 best-placed non-qualified teams from the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup and two highest-ranked countries per region.
The FIBA World Rankings will be followed in determining which squad can join.
Under the scheduled competitions this May, New Zealand is supposed to be bracketed in Group A.
Without New Zealand, Gilas will fight for the spots against Serbia and the Dominican Republic.
Bracketed in Group A are Puerto Rico, Italy and Senegal.
FIBA officials said New Zealand will be replaced at the FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2021 by the next best eligible team as per qualification system in the men's FIBA 3x3 federation ranking.
The team will be officially announced after confirmation from the related national federation.
FIBA said in its statement that it will evaluate the situation and decide upon potential further actions regarding New Zealand's withdrawal at a later stage.
The FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament will take place in Graz, Austria on May 26-30, 2021.