Frustrated by lack of full PBA support, SBP mulls sending Gilas cadet team to Olympic qualifiers
"Wala kang certainty of players and if they will be given enough time to practice," says SBP vice-president Ricky Vargas when asked what was swaying them from putting up another team of PBA players for the Olympic qualifiers. Jerome Ascano

RICKY Vargas has confirmed that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is considering either not taking part in the Fiba Olympic qualifying tournament in July or sending a Gilas Pilipinas team of cadet players in the event the 'consequences of non-participation is dire.'

The SBP vice-president presented the options on Monday upon the arrival of Gilas 3.0 from Changsha, China where the all-pro team fell a win short of the Fiba Asia championship and an outright berth to the 2016 Rio Olympics, relegating it to an Olympic qualifier set in July.

Vargas, however, said participation in the three-city, 18-team tournament is not a certainty as he rued the lack of a commitment of full support from PBA team owners to the Gilas team coached by Tab Baldwin which he said nonetheless 'exceeded our expectations.'

"Wala pa kaming commitment (to participate) and we have several options," he said. "We may not send a team to the Olympic qualifiers and instead begin preparations for the World Cup qualifiers beginning in 2017."

[See Vargas says PBA 'powerless' to commit players to Gilas: 'It's still the team owners' say']

Asked about possible sanctions from Fiba in terms of non-participation, Vargas, the most trusted lieutenant of SBP head Manny V. Pangilinan, said: " We don’t know the consequences. We have to learn more about it."

But if the SBP can't get the full commitment from fellow team owners in terms of player availability and training time, Vargas said they are thinking of forming a cadet team to send to the Olympic qualifiers which would serve as the start of their training for the 2017 Fiba World Cup qualifiers.

Interestingly, PBA president Chito Salud has also batted for a return to the Gilas cadet program which the SBP started under Rajko Toroman but ditched after the 2011 Fiba Asia Cup in Wuhan, China.

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"Wala kang certainty of players and if they will be given enough time to practice," Vargas said when asked what was swaying them from putting up another team of PBA players for the Olympic qualifiers.

"The SBP should start putting a cadet program, and we are taking him (Salud) up on that suggestion. We can use the qualifiers as part of their training for the World Cup," the SBP official said.

"Mahirap bigyan ng hope and Pilipino na PBA players ang gamitin and we can't even form the best team possible."

[See PBA reiterates support for Gilas, but Olympic qualifier poses major scheduling problem]

Vargas was quick to cast doubt on the promise made by Salud and league chairman Robert Non to adjust the PBA schedule next season for the national team, saying the scheduling conflicts make it more unlikely that an all-pro team will be given full support by the pro league.

"How can they even make that commitment?" Vargas said when asked about Salud and Non's commitment. "Remember, it was also the commissioner who said we have full support (for the 2015 Fiba Asia) and we had two months practice.

"Players also started begging off and they could not do anything."

Follow the writer on Twitter: @spinph