Road to Rio ‘test of manhood’ for Gilas Pilipinas

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Booking a ticket to the Rio Olympics could be the greatest challenge yet for the country’s men’s national basketball team under its current program and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Manny V. Pangilinan knows the kind of task that lies ahead.

“It’s a test of manhood,” Pangilinan told reporters on Wednesday night following the Meralco Bolts’ comeback win over the Alaska Aces in Game 2 of their semifinals series.

“I mean, those are NBA-type teams,” Pangilinan, the top Philippine sports patron, said as he pondered on the kind of competition Gilas Pilipinas will be facing in the Manila qualifiers this July. “I think Canada has eight to nine NBA [players].”

Canada, led by fast-rising NBA star Andrew Wiggins of the Minnesota Timberwolves, is one of the favorites to win.

And even before the possibility of getting a crack at the formidable Canadians, the Filipinos will face the French first.

Gilas and France, which also boasts a number of NBA veterans in Tony Parker, Nicolas Batum and Boris Diaw to name a few, are in the same group and will play each other in day one of tournament.

It’s no secret the Philippines will need to go through the wringer to seize the lone Olympic slot at stake, but Pangilinan doesn’t seem to be too concerned over it.

“Well, stay positive.”

Pangilinan also said he was pleased with the ticket sales while dismissing notions of how expensive they sell.

“The take up of the tickets are doing okay. They released it April 27,” he said.

Tickets sell as high as P47,000 for the Tournament Passes, which went on sale starting May 3, seated at the VIP section of the Mall of Asia Arena.

A Tournament Pass allows fans to catch all the games in all five competition days beginning July 5 while a Single Pass, which goes for as much as P10,000 for the VIP section in the group phase, is good for only the scheduled games on the date of purchase.

Single day passes will be sold starting May 16.

“Hindi naman (It’s not that [expensive]). Mas mura kay Beyonce or Madonna ba yun, or something (It’s cheaper than tickets to Beyonce or Madonna).”