PBA insists teams not compelled to release players as Champions Cup not part of deal with SBP
The Philippine team for the Fiba Asia Champions Cup is set to battle without top PBA stars. Jerome Ascano

THE FIBA Asia Champions Cup is not part of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) had with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), and therefore, the league couldn’t be compelled to lend players for the club championship meet in Chenzhou, China.

League external affairs and communications head Willie Marcial stressed this point after the PBA came under fire again in the wake of the non-inclusion of Terrence Romeo and Calvin Abueva to the national team formed and to be handled by coach Chot Reyes for the Sept. 22-30 tournament.

Since the event is merely club championship in nature, both the SBP and PBA deemed the Champions Cup as not integral as the FIBA World Cup qualifiers, the FIBA Asia Cup, or even the Southeast Asian Games in the program of the national team.

“Hindi obligado ang mga teams na magpahiram ng players. Nasa kanila na yun kung papayagan nilang maglaro o hindi, pero hindi compulsory yan,” said Marcial during a break in the Governors Cup doubleheader at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City in Wednesday night.

Expectations were made about Romero and Abueva reinforcing the Chooks To Go-Pilipinas squad in the China meet when the celebrated duo showed up on the first day of practice by the team.

However, Reyes admonished the two as they were not supposed to be there at all.

“This was not in the plan or the calendar. So this tournament was not even part of the discussions with the PBA. So to be very fair to the PBA, they really have no obligation to this team,” Reyes stressed before the team departed for China on Wednesday.

“Ang usapan lang namin sa PBA is when your tournament is over, those who can play, can play if we can get them,” he added. “That’s why in our first practice when Terrence Romeo and Calvin Abueva were there, I told them, ‘you shouldn’t be here.’ And I was very serious.”

 “There is no issue at all with the PBA. This is club championship, in the end. This is not a national team competition. I just wanted to get that out of the way to clear things out.”

Other members of the Gilas training pool who showed up in practice were Matthew Wright and Jonathan Grey.

None of the four eventually, made it to Chooks To Go-Pilipinas final 12-man roster.

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“May mga nagpahiram din naman,” stressed Marcial. “But again, discretion na ng mga teams yan. Puwedeng magpahiram, puwede ring hindi.”

Among those who released players to the team are Alaska (Carl Bryan Cruz), KIA (LA Revilla), and TnT Katropa (Norbert Torres and Alfrancis Tamsi).

Almond Vosotros and Jeric Teng are now PBA free agents.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos