THE Malaysia Basketball Association (Maba) will relish hosting the Olympic pre-qualifying tournament starting Thursday in Kuala Lumpur. - NSTP/SYARAFIQ ABD SAMAD

THE Malaysia Basketball Association (Maba) will relish hosting the Olympic pre-qualifying tournament starting Thursday in Kuala Lumpur.

The International Basketball Federation (Fiba) have granted Malaysia the rights to host Group B of the Asia-Oceania qualifiers despite the fact that the national women’s team are not involved in the competition.

The Malaysian women’s team missed the opportunity after they opted to skip the 2017 Asia Cup competition.

As a result of that, Malaysia, who are ranked World No 66, have missed a golden opportunity while regional rivals the Philippines (World No 50) and India (No 70) will have a shot to earn a passage to the Tokyo Olympics next year.

It is worth noting that Malaysia, who last competed in the Asia Women’s Championships in 2015, were ranked World No 40 at that time while the Philippines were ranked only No 58.

Group B of the qualifying meet features World No 2 Australia, Asian champions and World No 10 Japan, Taiwan and India.

Group A, to be played in Auckland, consists of China, New Zealand, South Korea and the Philippines.

Nevertheless, Maba are still looking at the positives of hosting the Olympic pre-qualifying meet despite the national team’s ‘absence.’

“The opportunity was presented to us and we thought it would be a good tournament to host here,” said Maba general manager Ken Yap.

“It will be good exposure for the basketball scene here and it’s not everyday we get top level players playing at Maba Stadium.

“Additionally, we also hope that hosting this tournament will be beneficial for our women’s team.

“We want to organise some learning sessions with the teams that are coming and we could possibly have a sharing session among the coaches and players.”