SBP hopeful of country's return stint to 2019 FIBA World Cup despite failed Olympic bid
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) vice president Al Panlilio is hopeful the Gilas team will earn a return stint in the FIBA World Cup to be held in China two years from now. Jaime Campos

A NEW FIBA format and a different course of action in forming the national team await the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) in its campaign for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

Still, the country’s governing body for the sport remains upbeat about the Filipinos’ chance of seeing action in the world basketball championship for the second straight time.

SBP vice president Al Panlilio likes the Philippines’ chances of landing a berth in the tournament that China is set to host two years from now, for the simple reason that a number of spots will be up for grabs for the new and combined FIBA Asia-Ocenia zone.

“We’re really looking forward to the next World Cup,” says Panlilio, Senior Vice President of Meralco. “There’s a calendar that we’ll follow there. Qualifications, six pocket tournaments, home and away (format).”

The sense of optimism comes even in the wake of Gilas Pilipinas’ failure to advance past the preliminary of the Manila Olympic Qualifying Tournament in what could be the last time an all-pro national team will don the country’s flag and color.

Owing to the new home-and-away format the FIBA will be implementing in a series of pocket tournaments that serves as the qualifier to the next World Cup, the SBP has decided to tap the services of the cadets team to form the new batch of Gilas.

The cage body made the move since it is aware the PBA can’t disrupt its tournament several times in a season.  The pro league and its board, however, said it is still open to any discussion with the SBP on the issue of lending of its players to the national team.

Whatever the prospect is, Panlilio remains certain about the chance of the country to make a return to the World Cup following its 2014 stint.

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“I think we have a big chance to get there because from Asia, which includes Australia and New Zealand, there’ll be seven slots (available),”explained Panlilio, who is being groomed to be Pangilinan’s successor at the helm of the SBP. “Since China (as host) is already there effectively, there’s eight slots (open) So if you take away Australia and New Zealand, there’s five spots (reserved) for Asia.

“Hopefully siguro yung Phiippines naman will be one of the five. We’ll just continue to develop, be better, and improve,” he added.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos