First test for Gilas 5.0 may be held on home soil as SBP bids for hosting of 2017 Seaba
SBP president Al Panlilio says the country has formally filed a bid to host the 2017 Seaba Championship, the first test for the Gilas 5.0 side of Chot Reyes. Jerome Ascano

TAGAYTAY CITY — The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) has formally expressed its willingness to host this year’s Seaba Championship, which serves as the first test for the Gilas Pilipinas 5.0 side of returning coach Chot Reyes.

SBP president Al Panlilio said they have already forwarded a formal intention to Seaba organizers to host the competition which serves as a qualifier for the 2017 Fiba Asia Cup.

Panlilio, however, said preparations can't be done until the Seaba tabs a date for the competition and names the host country.

“Wala pang kalendaryo but sometime in April,” said Panlilio in an interview after the Philippine Sports Commission-National Sports Association directional meeting here. “Actually, we are willing to host it. We sent our intention formally pero wala pa kaming reply.”

[See 'Small ball,' 2020 Olympics and Australia will dictate Chot Reyes choices for Gilas 5.0]

This year’s Seaba Championship will be the start of the Philippines’ bid to qualify for the 2019 Fiba Basketball World Cup where only one spot will be given to the region.

The top 14 in the 2017 Fiba Asia Cup will make it to the rejigged qualifiers for the World Cup.

Panlilio noted the importance of winning the Seaba Championship, which could be the third tournament the Philippines will be hosting over the last four years after the 2013 Fiba Asia Championship and the 2016 Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

“We need to win that or else. We have to qualify by winning,” said Panlilio.

The Philippines have won seven out of the 11 stagings of the Seaba Championship that began in 1994, but Reyes intends to put together a strong team for the tournament.

Reyes already has Gilas cadet players at his disposal and is set to name one player from each of the PBA's 12 teams to the pool by January 22, after which he will begin once-a-week practices.

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