E-GILAS Pilipinas begins its FIBA Esports Open III campaign on Friday in an expanded field in the Southeast Asian Conference. — FIBA ESPORTS

E-GILAS Pilipinas begins its International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Esports Open III campaign on Friday, April 16, in an expanded field in the Southeast Asian Conference.

Participating for the third straight time, Team Philippines is out to keep its solid standing in the online tournament, which has seen it perform well in the previous two editions.

The country’s E-gamers were among the winners in the first edition of the FIBA Esports Open held in June, ruling the Southeast Asian conference by sweeping Indonesia in their five-game series.

In the second edition in November, it finished runner-up to Australia in the reconfigured Southeast Asia/Oceania conference. The E-Boomers swept the Filipinos in their best-of-three finals.

For the third serving of the tournament, E-Gilas will have to contend against an expanded field of six teams in the conference, which is divided into two groups.

The Philippines is in Group I with Vietnam and Maldives while Group 2 features Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Mongolia.

Group play starts on Friday, followed by the semifinals on Saturday and the finals on Sunday.

In a text message to BusinessWorld, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) President Al S. Panlilio said the country “will be represented by practically the same team that represented us in the FIBA Esports Open 2.”

He went on to say that the team had “friendlies” with the other teams in the lead-up.

The SBP official also shared that their group was very involved in the staging of the tournament, meeting with FIBA Asia on matters related to it.

Apart from the Southeast Asian Conference, also kicking off their respective tournaments on Friday are the Africa and Middle East conferences.

The North & Central America (Current Generation) and Europe (Current Generation) conferences follow suit on April 23-25.

The Open concludes on May 7-9 with the North & Central America (Next Gen), Europe (Next Gen) and South America tournaments.

All games, just like in the previous editions, will be available on FIBA’s digital channels with live content being streamed across Facebook, Twitch, and YouTube channels.

In coming up with the FIBA Esports Open, the world basketball governing body looks to add further dimension to it as an organization while also affording the basketball community more action amid the coronavirus pandemic. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo