GILAS Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes once again faces the prospect of making do with the materials that will be at his disposal for the Fiba Asia Cup in Lebanon next month amid a report that some teams are not inclined to release players to the pool.
The Philippine Star’s Quinito Henson wrote on Sunday that the PBA board has declined to mandate its member ballclubs to release one veteran player each to the Gilas pool for the Fiba Asia championship since it no longer serves as a qualifier for either the World Cup or the Olympics.
Instead, the PBA board, the report said, has left it to the teams to decide on whether or not to release their players to the Gilas pool ahead of the August 8-20 showpiece in Lebanon.
A separate source contacted by SPIN.ph later confirmed the board decision, although he added that the board is willing to go all out in its support of Gilas for the home-and-away qualifiers for the World Cup beginning in November - to the point of expressing willingness to delay the start of the next season to December.
Henson also wrote that so far, seven teams have already given the green light to their veteran players to join the Fiba Asia mission, including Rain or Shine which has even thrown in national team mainstay Gabe Norwood aside from Raymond Almazan and cadet Mike Tolomia.
Gilas is still awaiting word from five teams, namely San Miguel, Ginebra, Star, GlobalPort and Alaska, leaving the fate of Gilas regulars June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, Calvin Abueva, Allein Maliksi, and Terrence Romeo in the balance.
All five veterans of the last Seaba Cup have been included in the 24-man pool but will be left out if they fail to get the clearance from their mother teams.
Amid the uncertainty, Reyes is taking everything in stride.
“Sanay na ako dyan eh,” Reyes said after practice on Monday. “From Day One since I became head coach of the national team, that’s always been the case. I’m not surprised that that’s still the issue, the same situation now.”
Reyes cited previous buildups for international tournaments where Gilas’ lineups and preparations have also been far from ideal compared to other countries.
However, he noted that in this buildup for the 2019 World Cup, countries like Australia and China have already started their preparations for the qualifiers starting in November.
“Like I said, that’s something that I’m used to, and it’s a situation where we don’t even know who our team is, but the other teams are already practicing,” Reyes said. “In fact, Australia and China have already been playing against each other; they just finished a two- or three-game series amongst themselves.”
“Pero ganun naman palagi – every tournament we go to, palagi naman talaga tayo naghahabol,” he added. “It’s just a reality that we have to face; it’s a reality that we have to live with. I don’t want to dwell on those things anymore."
According to sources, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, headed by Al Panlilio, has reiterated that the Fiba Asia Cup is one of the tournaments the PBA has committed to release players under the Memorandum of Agreement the two parties signed last year.
But on how the situation will be resolved remains to be seen.
In the meantime, Reyes is rolling with the punches and is getting ready to go to war regardless of the players made available to Gilas.
"For me, we just to do the best job possible given the limitations and restrictions,” he said.