France beat the Philippines in their Rio 2016 qualifier ©FIBA

France got their International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Olympic qualifying tournament campaign off to a winning start as they dispatched hosts the Philippines in their Group B opener on the first day of the event at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila.

The French side, gold medallists at the 2013 EuroBasket competition in Ljubljana, disappointed the home crowd inside the venue with a 93-84 win.

They had to do it the hard way, however, as National Basketball Association star Tony Parker, who plays for the San Antonio Spurs, helped reduce a 10-point deficit to 41-40 late in the second quarter.

His three pointer seemed to inspire the French against a battling Philippines outfit as they edged 45-43 ahead at the end of the first half.

It was an advantage they never relinquished as they were able to see out victory by a slender nine-point margin.

CSKA Moscow’s Nando de Colo led the scoring for the French with an impressive haul of 27 points, while Andray Blatche’s total of 21 points proved to be in vain as he ended up on the losing side.

New Zealand are the other team in Group B at the event in Manila.

Cory Joseph of the Toronto Raptors inspired Canada to victory over Turkey ©FIBA
Cory Joseph of the Toronto Raptors inspired Canada to victory over Turkey ©FIBA

In Group A, Cory Joseph of the Toronto Raptors was the star of the show as he inspired Canada to a 77-69 triumph over Turkey in their first match of the event.

Joseph produced a dominant performance, particularly in the second and third quarters, on his way to an individual total of 21 points.

He also claimed five assists and three rebounds as the Canadians, who led from start to finish, ensured they began their pursuit of an Olympic place with a win.

In Group A at the qualification event in Belgrade, Puerto Rico bounced back from defeat yesterday with a 91-81 win over Angola and Latvia qualified for the last four by beating the Czech Republic 71-59.

In Turin, hosts Italy also reached the semi-finals as they overcame Croatia 67-60.

They will be joined in the next round by Mexico, who picked up their second straight victory with a 75-70 triumph over Iran.

The top two countries in each group in each tournament will advance to the semi-finals.

The winners of each event will fill the three remaining places in the basketball tournament at Rio 2016.