Top basketball stakeholders rallied behind the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) in its bid to form a super team that will represent the country in the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes said they have formally clinched the support of the stakeholders, who vowed to help them form the strongest, most competitive team that will campaign in the prestigious event that the country will host next year.
The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), for one, had already made all of its players available and will hold only two conferences in Season 48 to give way for the World Cup – the world’s biggest basketball event outside the Olympics.
It will also lend the players of teams who were eliminated from the Philippine Cup to Gilas Pilipinas for the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
“We will have two conferences next season. That’s what we can do to help Gilas,” said PBA commissioner Willie Marcial, reiterating the statement he made shortly after the PBA board meeting last week.
“Our goal is to help them prepare for 2023.”
The country’s top collegiate leagues – the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) – also agree, saying that they don’t see any problem lending their players since their schedules will not be in conflict with the World Cup.
“Technically, the schedules of both the NCAA and the UAAP won’t get hit by the schedules of the qualifiers and the World Cup itself,” Castellano said.
“We will be ready to adjust for the Gilas team.”
Assembling the country’s best talents has been a problem for Gilas Pilipinas.
Actually, there was already a program in place with Kiwi-American tactician Tab Baldwin serving as head coach and program director.
But when the Covid pandemic struck the country, marquee players opted to pack their bags and play overseas, leaving the Gilas program in chaos.
Baldwin eventually resigned and the federation tapped Reyes, who is also the TNT Tropang Giga mentor in the PBA, to run the program.
The result was very disappointing as Reyes struggled to form a solid team that led to the country’s loss in the Southeast Asian Games as well as the third window of the Asian qualifiers and the FIBA Asia Cup.
All in all, Gilas posted a dismal 3-11 win-loss record in their past 14 international games, with all of their victories coming at the expense of lowly India.
With that, sideliners have called for his ouster and demanded a revamp of the basketball program, prompting SBP president Al Panlilio to call for stakeholders meeting that aims to realign their goals of a World Cup victory with that of their members.
Reyes said the meeting went well with everybody vowing to throw their full support to the embattled program.
“We will choose the best possible players who will make the best possible team,” said Reyes in a text conversation after emerging in the hybrid meeting presided by SBP president Al Panlilio and vice president Ricky Vargas, who is also the chairman of the PBA.
Also in attendance were Marcial, SBP board member Ricky Palou, SBP deputy executive director Butch Antonio, special assistant to SBP chief Ryan Gregorio and San Miguel Corp. sports director Alfrancis Chua.
Reyes added that more than talent, they will also look into the players attitude and ability to fit into his system to make sure that they will be able to contribute to Gilas Pilipinas success.
“That means they should fit the system as well as each other,” he said.