AL Panlilio of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) expressed optimism on the future of Gilas Pilipinas after sitting down with PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa to chart a new path for the national team in the wake of Fiba's decision to change its qualifying format for the 2019 World Cup.
Panlilio and Narvasa met on Wednesday night for the first of what they said would be a series of meetings to hopefully reach a compromise plan for Gilas after Fiba's shift to a home-and-away qualifying format put in doubt an all-pro team's continued participation in the national team.
The SBP, which Panlilio will likely head after Manny V. Pangilinan steps down, has announced a plan to go back to the Gilas cadet program beginning with the World Cup qualifiers next year - a move that could leave the next PBA rookie draft without some of the biggest names from the amateur ranks.
Panlilio said he and Narvasa are looking at all options in a bid to reach a 'win-win solution' to the dilemma.
"Great first meeting with Commissioner Chito," said Panlilio, who is also head of the MVP Sports Foundation and Meralco's representative to the PBA board. "We both want to come up with a sustainable program moving forward that is good for both the national team and PBA especially with the challenging new calendar of Fiba tournaments."
Panlilio said there is an 'openness to explore options' and consider suggestions, including one by Alaska owner Wilfred Uytengsu to have the players to be named into the next Gilas cadet pool enter the rookie draft but allowed to stay on with the national team for as long as necessary.
The first step was to put all the options on the table, he added.
"We put on the table all options considering all suggestions," said Panlilio, one of Pangilinan's most trusted men. "We agreed to discuss further, thresh out the options, the details.
"More brainstorming to be done until we get all the stakeholders on board. We are open to suggestions even from the fans who at the end are an important stakeholder."