The Philippine Basketball Association is looking to further assert its presence in the international arena as it flirts with the idea of joining the William Jones Cup.
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said they have already received an invitation to be part of the prestigious invitational tournament that will be held in Taipei in August.
Marcial said he will elevate the matter before the PBA board of governors while the league is on a break to give way for the country’s hosting of the FIBA Basketball World Cup from 25 August to 10 September.
“We already received an invitation to join the Jones Cup but I’m going to bring it up to the board,” said Marcial during the Daily Tribune’s 23rd anniversary celebration at The Peak inside the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City.
Marcial said the PBA board, led by chairperson Ricky Vargas of TNT Tropang Giga, is set to hold a meeting in the last week of July.
“There are a lot of considerations here,” Marcial said.
“The Jones Cup is a very competitive tournament. If we send a team, we have to make sure that it’s going to be competitive despite the absence of Gilas players. We also need to have imports. Who is the team that is willing to bring in imports? Those are the things that we need to discuss in the next board meeting.”
Exposing its players in the international circuit has been the thrust of the PBA lately.
Last year, it sent San Miguel Beer and TNT Tropang Giga to the East Asia Super League, where they collided against club teams from countries like Japan, Korea, Taipei and Hong Kong.
‘We already received an invitation to join the Jones Cup but I’m going to bring it up to the board.’
The league will be sending teams to the EASL anew with the Tropang Giga and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel serving as its representatives.
Aside from that, it also opened its doors to foreign teams, starting with the Bay Area Dragons, who pushed Ginebra to the limit before yielding the Commissioner’s Cup crown early this year.
Now, it is looking to join the Jones Cup, which is just perfect as the league is looking to “stay active” while its stars are still on loan to the Gilas Pilipinas squad that will compete in the World Cup.
Playing in the Jones Cup isn’t new for the PBA.
In fact, the PBA-backed Gilas Pilipinas won the Jones Cup title in 2012 with LA Tenorio emerging as the hero in the gold medal match against Mahram Tehran of Iran.
The national team also competed in the Jones Cup in 2005, which was the time when the country was barred from competing in events sanctioned by the International Basketball Federation due to political turmoil. Chot Reyes coached the squad with PBA stars like Asi Taulava, Jayjay Helterbrand, Mark Caguioa and Dondon Hontiveros as players.
The Centennial Team coached by Tim Cone also reigned supreme in the Jones Cup, which served as its buildup for the Bangkok Asian Games in 1998.
The last time the Jones Cup was held prior the outbreak of the Covid pandemic was in 2019 with Mighty Sports of Charles Tiu and Serbian mentor Rajko Toroman emerging victorious.
“But what is clear is that we will send a competitive team,” Marcial said.
“We don’t want to be the laughingstock in the Jones Cup. If we’re going to join, we have to make sure that we will be very competitive.”