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PBA rallies behind Gilas


In the absence of solid tuneup matches, Gilas Pilipinas will settle for goodwill games with Philippine Basketball Association teams in the runup to the opening of the FIBA World Cup.

League commissioner Willie Marcial and PBA chairman Ricky Vargas are on the same page as Gilas Pilipinas struggles to secure high-quality match with World Cup-bound teams.

“Yes, we will support them. If that’s what Gilas need, then we will do it,” Marcial told Daily Tribune in a telephone conversation.

Although Gilas spent three weeks playing in Estonia and Lithuania recently, the Philippine team lacks quality games unlike the vast majority of the Manila-bound teams.

While Gilas is playing in a pocket tournament in China early next month, it won’t be against FIBA’s crème dela crème as the Filipinos take on Iran, Lebanon and Senegal.

China is hosting a tough cagefest in Shenzhen featuring Italy, Brazil, New Zealand and Serbia just days before they all land in Manila for the 25 August inaugurals.

Mindful of Gilas’ plight, the PBA has agreed to lend a helping hand.

In fact, the PBA even moved the opening of its next conference to October so Gilas could prepare well for the FIBA World Cup.

“All we have to do is ask our teams to get themselves ready,” Marcial said.

“The good thing is, we’re having our off-season tournament that’s why our players are in good condition and ready to play.”

Marcial feels a regular PBA team would be competitive enough to play Gilas in a tune up game as opposed to a selection of players that will be put up coming from different teams.

“A regular team is better because it’s already formed and has already established chemistry compared to a selection of good players that will need time to develop,” Marcial added.

Whether it’s a selection or a regular team, Ricky Vargas, TNT’s representative to the PBA board, supports the idea of having their players competing against Gilas in a series of tune up games.

“I am very confident the board will support such request from the Gilas team,” wrote Vargas in a Viber message.

Just before Gilas’ opening game against the Dominican Republic, it will play Mexico in a friendly.

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