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PBA to give way for FIBA tourney

The Philippine Basketball Association will take its time off to give way for Gilas Pilipinas’ participation in the coming sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers at the Philippine Arena this month.

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said there will be no scheduled games when Gilas battle Lebanon on 24 February — a Friday.

They will also take it slow when the Nationals face Jordan on 27 February.

“The PBA will stop so there will be no scheduled game on 24 February, Friday. The other Gilas game is set on a Monday,” Marcial told Daily Tribune.

Marcial added that he was elated over the turnout of the recent Commissioner’s Cup finals encounter between crowd darling Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and the visiting Bay Area.

Marcial, who served in various capacities before helming Asia’s first professional cage league, isn’t expecting Gilas games to surpass Game 7 of the PBA finals in which they attracted a record crowd of 54,589.

He, however, believes that Gilas Pilipinas will be able to draw a lot of fans.

“Their games are scheduled Friday and Monday. We pushed back our Game 7 to a Sunday due to demand of fans and that’s the difference,” Marcial said.

“Friday and Monday are working days and transportation will be a lot more challenging because of the traffic and accessibility. Nevertheless, I expect a good turnout in the Gilas games and the PBA will be supporting our national team, no matter what.”

Marcial graced Gilas’ practice at the Meralco Gym on Monday to deliver a pep talk.

“Thank you for your time and sacrifice for this Gilas team,” Marcial told the players and the coaching staff.

“I’m looking for a win on the 24th and 27th. We can do that, right?”

Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes expressed his gratitude to the support given by the PBA.

“That’s part of the planning and we’re very thankful to the PBA. Me and Commissioner Willie were always talking and that’s part of the plan, when we got together even as early as last year, we scheduled it. They anticipated that this is going to happen,” Reyes said.

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