PBA clears way for Gilas with no league games a week before World Cup qualifiers
Gilas coach Chot Reyes gets his wish of having a full lineup in practice at least a week before any World Cup qualifiers window with the PBA clearing its schedule in that span. 

PROOF of its all out support in Gilas Pilipinas’ bid to make it back to the FIBA World Cup, the PBA Board gave its blessing to suspend its play dates during the rest of the qualifiers for the year, including the second round window that kicks off this September.

SPIN.ph sources around the league said no games will be played for a week - or about eight days – prior to the national team’s game in the qualifiers, which holds its final window for the first round from June 29 to July 2.

By that, it also means players in the Gilas pool will be pulled out and won’t be joining their respective mother ballclubs in their respective practices to concentrate fully in their national team duties.

Reached out for comment, commissioner Willie Marcial confirmed the board decision, but refused to elaborate on it.

“Yes,” was his curt reply when asked about the board approval.

Gilas is running second behind Australia in Group B of the tournament that will determine the seven teams that will represent the FIBA Asia/Oceania Zone to the 2019 World Cup in China.

With a 3-1 record, the country has already qualified to the second round of the meet together with the unbeaten Boomers (4-0). Still, it needs to win its next two games against Chinese Taipei in Taiwan on June 29 and Australia at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan on July 2 if it is to finish on top of Group B heading into the second round.

The second round of the qualifiers, where the surviving 12 teams advance, will start on Sept. 13.

“Hinto lahat ng laro nun. So adjust talaga ng schedule ang liga,” said a source, who refused to be named.

The third window falls around the playoffs of the mid-season Commissioner’s Cup, while the start of the second round will be played around the eliminations of the Governors Cup.

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Under the set-up, the league’s 43rd season could be over by December.

“So yung new season, mag start na by January 2019,” the same source pointed out.

The season hasn’t started yet when the qualifiers began last November, but ran into conflict during the second window held in February as the Philippine Cup didn’t go on a break during that stretch not until Gilas’ home game against Japan on Feb. 25 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Now, everything will come to a standstill at least a week before the qualifiers.

“The Board agreed not to play games during the week of the qualifiers as per request by the commissioner, who said that’s his commitment of helping our national team,” said the source.

The Philippines qualified to the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain after a 36-year absence.  

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