SBP head Manny Pangilinan not ruling out PBA players in Gilas despite return to cadet program
Manny V. Pangilinan says the SBP remains open to having PBA players shore up the Gilas cadets. Jerome Ascano

SAMAHANG Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Manny V. Pangilinan insisted the return of Gilas Pilipinas to the cadet program does not necessarily rule out PBA players from suiting up for flag and country in the coming years.

Pangilinan said the SBP remains open to having PBA players shore up future Gilas teams that will be composed of several amateur standouts in international competitions.

“It’s possible that the final configuration could include several PBA players, say in the finals of the World Cup in 2019. So we are not ruling that out,” said Pangilinan in an interview with reporters after the send-off for Gilas Pilipinas on Wednesday.

The Gilas cadet program was revived due to the shift in the Fiba international calendar where the qualifying for the 2019 World Cup will be composed of four home-and-away matches per year, a move that will affect the availability not only of PBA players but NBA and Euroleague cagers as well in international tournaments.

Pangilinan, however, recognized the need for the SBP and the PBA to discuss about issues related to the Gilas cadets program and where both sides could cooperate.

“In any event, I think the details of how the program will be implemented will have to be coordinated with Commissioner Narvasa to ensure that it is working in collaboration with the PBA,” said Pangilinan.

“Malinaw na kailangang mag-usap,” he added. “In principle, okay naman sa kanya (Narvasa) ang Gilas cadets. Ayaw din niya madisrupt ‘yung PBA calendar in a very significant way. Mahirap naman ‘yung bubunutin mo ‘yung players, championship na. Mahirap ‘yun. Both sides are taking a practical approach.”

Pangilinan reiterated that the creation of a cadet program has the mutual support of SBP and the PBA.

“We really have no choice but to form a separate team. It’s best under the circumstance to replicate what was done by coach Rajko Toroman,” said Pangilinan.

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