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SBP plots solid Gilas buildup


The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas assured that a strong and prepared Gilas Pilipinas team will be on the court when the country hosts the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

SBP executive director Sonny Barrios on Tuesday told Daily Tribune that they will leave no stone unturned in coming up with a strong, solid and fighting team that will represent the country in the prestigious 32-nation tourney set from 25 August to 10 September.

Barrios said the federation, headed by president Al Panlilio and program director Chot Reyes, had already laid down the roadmap to a successful World Cup participation.

Based on the blueprint, after competing in the fifth and sixth windows of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers in November and February, respectively, the federation will reach out to the Philippine Basketball Association for support in assembling the Gilas pool.

Barrios said PBA commissioner Willie Marcial promised that as soon as the season-ending Governors’ Cup is over on 28 April, they will release players whom Reyes wants to be part of the Gilas pool.

The pool will be announced on 22 May and will be sent to Europe in June and the United States in July to undergo rigid training, including friendly matches with topnotch national and club teams to give it a feel of world-class competition.

The final roster will be named in August before the SBP arranges a pocket tourney named “MVP Cup” where Gilas Pilipinas will get to test its mettle against other teams that will also be seeing action in the World Cup.

Barrios stressed that Reyes is tipped to use this tourney as a gauge to study the combinations and make some minor adjustments before formally plunging into action.

“Once the PBA season ends on 28 April, we will go full blast with our preparation,” said Barrios, also the designated spokesperson of the SBP.

“The PBA vowed to make all its players available for the World Cup. They told us that by 29 April, all of the PBA players who are part of the Gilas pool will be available for us. They can now start training either here or abroad. That’s the sacrifice that the PBA will be making just to make sure that our participation in the World Cup will be a success.”

Training in Europe and the United States is nothing new for Gilas.

In fact, they trained in Miami during their buildup for the FIBA World Championship in 2014 and Estonia for their preparation for the FIBA Asia Championship in 2015.

Barrios, however, preached patience, saying that although they want to put up a competitive team for the fifth window, they still have to adhere to the schedules of the PBA and the University Athletic Association of the Philippines.

He said National Basketball Association standout Jordan Clarkson – the star of the fourth window – will no longer be around, but the PBA gave them the liberty to pick players from three teams just to come up with a strong squad for the qualifiers.

“We have to temper our expectations,” he said, adding that Clarkson will not join the squad until the last six weeks of their World Cup buildup.

“Jordan Clarkson will not be around (for the fifth window), but we’re reaching out to both the PBA and the UAAP to help us form a strong team. So far, the PBA have already agreed to lend players from maximum of three teams while we still have to concretize our plan with the UAAP in case we will be needing (Carl) Tamayo or (Ange) Kouame.”

Barrios said although the fifth window is still more than two months away, Reyes will open the training camp on Monday just to develop camaraderie among Gilas pool members.

“The coaching staff wants to get the ball rolling,” he said.

“They want to start training and meet players at least every Monday for the purposes of bonding and camaraderie. I can’t yet say who will attend, but it’s going to be a good start.”

“Hosting the World Cup is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It doesn’t just involve the SBP or the PBA or the UAAP – we are all in this together. Our pride as a basketball nation is at stake here.”

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