TANTALIZING duels with reigning world champion Germany, host France and Asian rival Japan await Gilas Pilipinas if it makes it to the Paris Olympics.

The Germans, who won the FIBA World Cup in Manila last year, the French and the Japanese drew as opposition in Group B the winner of the coming Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Latvia, where the Nationals are set to vie.

But before thinking about matching up with NBA stars Dennis Schröder, Victor Wembanyama and Rui Hachimura or Yuta Watanabe, Gilas will have to pass an acid test in the July 2 to 7 OQT in Riga.

Only one ticket to the Paris Olympiad will be on the line in the Riga qualifiers.

Coach Tim Cone and his 12 brave souls will first go up against Georgia and host Latvia in the Group A preliminaries, seeking to finish Top 2 to move on to the crossover semis and hopefully, finals against counterparts from Group B (Brazil, Cameroon, Montenegro).

Mr. Cone, who took over the reins last January, said the end goal of his four-year program is to send the Philippines back to the Olympiad this year or in 2028 in Los Angeles.

Twelve teams will contest the men’s basketball gold in the Olympics’ return to the French capital.

Defending champion USA, Manila WC runner-up Serbia, debutant South Sudan and the winner of the OQT in Puerto Rico make up Group C while Australia, Canada and the qualifiers from the two OQTs in Piraeus, Greece and Valencia, Spain comprise Group A. — Olmin Leyba