The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) and Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) will meet this week to finalize the list of professionals who will join the Gilas Pilipinas pool, from which the team that will play in the February window of the Fiba Asia Cup comes from.
But unlike in the past, when players willingly answered calls to play for flag and land, SBP President Al Panlilio believes this time around will be a lot different.
« We’ll move you to a different bubble-like environment, » Panlilio told the investigator on Saturday by phone. « That’s why we don’t want to publish the names of the PBA players yet. The SBP is aware of the sensitivity of such an announcement. And because of the bubble, some of these players may not want to leave. ”
Panlilio said it was the recommendation of Gilas program director Tab Baldwin to put players in a closed environment for « 3-4 weeks » to learn the system, while Gilas twice against South Korea and once against Indonesia starting in February fights. 18-22, looking for a win that would push the Philippines in the continental championship.
The SBP president said they had already told PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial of Gilas’ wish list of 29 PBA players and that they would like to end the scheduled meeting this week to know who is ready to play and being in a bubble Much like the players at the Philippine Cup in Clark last year.
Korea are reported to be sending their best side for this window and Panlilio understandably want the Philippines to be represented at their best for these two games against Indonesia.
Indonesia will not be a piece of cake as the team has a naturalized player whom Team Philippines cannot yet equip with Ange Kouame to get his approval from Congress.
« He’s definitely out for that window, » said Panlilio of Kouame, whose citizenship is pending while the House of Representatives pauses before giving the second reading on the UAAP’s outstanding Ateneo case.
It would have been a great showcase for Kouame to play with a Gilas team made up of professionals against a Korean team with a naturalized player in Ra Gun-ah, also known as Ricardo Ratliffe, the former Purefoods importer in the PBA, was used.
« He (Kouame) will be in the Asian Cup with Gilas at the earliest, » said Panlilio. “It (naturalization) is a very long process and we have to respect it. ”
Kouame’s presence would have been a huge boost, as this basketball-mad nation has been passionate about Gila’s games.
The window will take place at the Angeles University Foundation, the same venue for the hugely successful Philippine Cup that Barangay Ginebra won against TNT.
For his part, Marcial said the league still cannot sign any of their players, although « we will definitely loan them while they are available, » as do many players who have joined Gilas Pilipina’s teams overseas with theirs Familys.
« We don’t really know when to return, what about travel bans and everything, » said Marcial. “But definitely, if the SBP wants a particular player, the PBA is ready to help – provided that player is available. ”
Marcial said the next PBA season is expected to start in April, which means most players who are overseas with their families will not return until late February or early March.
« Putting you in a bubble again is going to be a big consideration for any candidate, » Marcial said. « I know the mental strain many of you (players) took during the Philippine Cup. Therefore, the PBA does not want to keep players in such an environment for as long as possible. « . ”
Marcial also said the league will hold at least two conferences for its 46th. Season this year, although they’ll shoot all three if possible.
Holding closed-loop tournaments is the most ideal route, Marcial said after the league spent more than 65 million pesetas on the Philippine Cup.
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Philippine Basketball Association, Willie Marcial, Philippines, Philippine Men’s National Basketball Team, 2021, Noli Eala, PBA Philippine Cup
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