SMC group, allies assure availability of Fajardo and Co. for Gilas bid in WC qualifiers
June Mar Fajardo, Terrence Romeo, and Japeth Aguilar are expected to be called up for the Gilas team to the World Cup qualifiers. SMB draftee Christian Standhardinger, meanwhile, is one of the naturalized player options of the national team.

PBA clubs supportive of under-fire commissioner Chito Narvasa have committed their players' availability to the Gilas Pilipinas team bound for the World Cup qualifiers amid a dispute that has left the league board in a standoff.

In a statement, San Miguel Beer, Barangay Ginebra, Star Hotshots, Globalport and Kia vowed to make their players available for the Gilas team that will start begin training camp on Friday ahead of its qualifying game away against Japan on Nov. 24.

The dispute over the continued stint of Narvasa has left Gilas' preparations under a cloud of uncertainty since the national team program is being run by the MVP group, which led a majority bloc that is moving to end the commissioner's tenure.

"San Miguel Beer, Barangay Ginebra, Star Hotshots, Globalport and Kia Picanto will continue to make available its players to the Philippine team that is preparing for the Fiba-Asia World Cup qualifier and other league functions," the group said in a statement on Friday.

"We believe this should not be adversely affected by the board members’ differences in opinion," the group added. "We reiterate that we are doing this to protect the league we all love, the game of basketball and the millions of fans who continue to support us."

Reyes is expected to call up members of the Gilas team that took part in the Fiba Asia Cup in Lebanon in August, including San Miguel's four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo, GlobalPort's Terrence Romeo, and Ginebra's Japeth Aguilar.

Fil-German Christian Standhardinger, who was picked No. 1 overall by SMB in the last PBA rookie draft, was tapped as Gilas' naturalized player in the Fiba Asia Cup and the last Southeast Asian Games.

The statement should come as a relief for Gilas coach Chot Reyes, which has yet to release the pool of players he intends to tap for two qualifying games spread over four days.

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Gilas will host Chinese-Taipei on Nov. 27 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The SMC-led bloc has also reached out to the other members of the board who are opposed to a contract extension for Narvasa, saying the issue should be resolved by the board 'as a collegial body, not as individuals."

"We trust we would be able to resolve issues concerning Commissioner Narvasa’s tenure and other matters regarding the PBA’s future direction in the upcoming annual planning set on Nov. 14, with fitting dignity and decorum," the group said. 

"Accordingly, the PBA will proceed with the normal course of its business operations within the parameters of its by-laws and constitution," it added.

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