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PBA plots invitational tourney

With Gilas Pilipinas deep in its preparation for the FIBA Basketball World Cup, the Philippine Basketball Association is planning to put up an invitational tournament for teams that will see action in the world’s biggest basketball stage.

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial told Daily Tribune their plan of organizing an invitational event for visiting teams that will compete in the World Cup set in Manila, Jakarta and Tokyo from 25 August to 10 September next year.

“We’ll be going to different places in the Philippines and might have a mini-tournament or an invitational event,” Marcial said in an exclusive interview.

“We might invite teams which are not bracketed with the Philippines to join us in a mini-tournament.”

This early, the PBA is getting the feel of more competitive games with the inclusion of a visiting team from Hong Kong — Bay Area, which is one among the top teams competing in the ongoing Commissioner’s Cup.

The erstwhile undefeated and tournament leader Dragons are sharing second to third places with Converge, two of the hottest teams in the Commissioner’s Cup, which won five straight games alongside Phoenix.

Bay Area and Converge carry identical 6-2 win-loss record and the Dragons were among the most formidable teams in the ongoing import-flavored conference.

Making the Dragons more impressive is the fact that their imports — Myles Powell and Andrew Nicholson — were not allowed to see action at the same time as part of its concession with other teams.

Marcial sees how valuable playing against international club teams, much more against the national squads of different countries.

But he reaffirmed the league’s commitment with Gilas and in the upcoming window in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, the national team was provided with players from the PBA, including reigning Most Valuable Player Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar and Jamie Malonzo of Ginebra, Roger Pogoy, Calvin Oftana and Poy Erram of TNT and CJ Perez of San Miguel.

In the sixth and final window early next year, though, the PBA will find ways on how it can help in the formation of Gilas when the country hosts the games at the Philippine Arena.

“It depends,” Marcial said.

“Me and Coach Chot already talked about it that the PBA cannot be interrupted during that time. But if we can loan players they will request, then we will. If the PBA will be interrupted, it will prolong the season and it might affect their preparations for the World Cup.”

The PBA had already sacrificed a full conference, which will allow Gilas to prepare non-stop for three months with all the players they will request being loaned to the national squad.

“We’ve already committed to loan our players by last week of April, but it was pushed back to early May following the postponement of some of the games because of the typhoon,” Marcial added.

“We don’t want to prolong the season so as not to disrupt their preparations for the World Cup.”

Twice this conference, two playdates were already rescheduled.

On 25 September, the game between Meralco and NLEX and the match between Converge and Ginebra were postponed and reset to 30 November at the Philsports Arena.

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