SBP keeps door open for PBA’s help in new FIBA calendar

Even if it is bent on pushing the revival of the Gilas Pilipinas cadet program, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is keeping the door open for pro league’s help in the formation of future national teams.

Butch Antonio, the SBP’s deputy director for international affairs, reiterated on Thursday that the country’s local cage body is welcoming with open arms the pro league’s support if and when it needs support for future Gilas squads in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in China and the 2020 Summer Games Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

The SBP has already laid the groundwork in the revival of the Gilas cadets program which current national team coach Tab Baldwin deemed as the “most logical option” since FIBA, the world governing body, will institute a new calendar of events starting next year, including the implementation of a home-and-away format on its sanctioned international tourneys.

“That’s definitely an option. What we have is a good working relationship with the PBA and it that’s a way of showing their support by helping the team participate like how they did before, welcome ‘yun on our part,” said Antonio at the end of Gilas Pilipinas’ closed-door training session at the Meralco gym in Ortigas, Pasig City.

Antonio, who is also serving as Gilas Pilipinas team manager, admitted the SBP will still need to deal personally with mother clubs of their desired players in the pro ranks.

“You have to deal with the PBA and the ballclub. I think if the players are willing, it’s just a matter of talking to the right people if they’ll be allowed to play,” he said.

And this early, the SBP officials are already willing to sit down to discuss with their pro league counterparts the revival of the original Gilas program patterned after the Rajko Toroman-mentored teams in 2009.

“We will inform the PBA. It’s working with all the pieces of the puzzle, and everybody’s a part of it. It’s not just a project of one entity, it has to be work of all. Para sa bayan nga ito,” said Antonio.

Although the likes of top amateur standouts Kiefer Ravena, Mac Belo, Kevin Ferrer, Roger Pogoy, Mike Tolomia, Jiovani Jalalon and Russel Escoto are considered as shoo-ins for the revival of the original Gilas program, Antonio said nothing is cast in stone yet.

“As far as players are concerned, my task now is to formally try to get them on board. We have not anyone attached to the program na, but I’ve had informal talks with them and the signs are positive. But until they’re actually with the program, that’s the only time I can be happy and sure that they are in it,” he said.

“We have about nine or 10. There are players who are still in school and we would not like to pressure them and lose focus on their schools. Our main target is the people who are finished with their commitments in their schools.”

Antonio is also convinced that team chemistry will be Gilas Pilipinas’ primary edge if their desired amateur standouts express their desire to join the cadets program.

“The longer the term, the better it is for everybody. At least you’ll have players staying together. That’s one of the keys in having a successful team, to keep them as long as you can,” he said. – By Jerome Lagunzad

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