WITH the Asian Games out of the equation, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) has been urged by its top patron to shift focus to three major international tournaments, including the country’s hosting of the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
Manny V. Pangilinan said he has this early tasked federation president Al Panlilio to get the ball rolling on the preparation for the hosting and the buildup of the team that will see action in the first world basketball championship to be held in Manila in 45 years.
National coach Chot Reyes has already formed a 23-man pool for the 2023 World Cup led by young big guns Kai Sotto, AJ Edu, Thirdy Ravena, Kobe Paras, Matt Nieto, and Fil-foreigners Remy Martin, Dwight Ramos, and Troy Rike.
“Ang sabi ko sa kanila, what is of paramount importance to the Philippines and SBP is really the 2023 World Cup. So mag-form na tayo ng team na ngayon pa lang wll be competitive in 2023 because we’re hosting it here,” said the 72-year-old chairman emeritus of the country's basketball body.
And then there’s the 2019 World Cup in China, where Gilas Pilipinas is still very much in the running for one of seven berths allotted for Asia despite the sanctions over the July 2 brawl with Australia, and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
“Hindi ko naman sinabing kalimutan na natin ang 2019, let’s try our best to qualify for 2019 (World Cup),” said the former SBP president. “And tsaka yung 2020 sa Olympics, ang tagal na nating hindi naka-participate doon, nakasali sa Olympics. So we need to also look forward to that.”
Pangilinan’s directive came after the SBP officially notified the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) about its decision not to send a basketball team to the Asiad in Indonesia.
Pangilinan ordered the basketball federation to oversee the Gilas roster for the start of the World Cup second round window slated next month.
The country only has three active players left in its lineup following the suspension of the 10 others involved in the infamous brawl that marred the game between the Philippines and Australia last month.
Also suspended by Fiba were coach Chot Reyes (one game) and deputy Jong Uichico (three games).
“Isa pa ring problema yun, sino ang maglalaro with the number of players suspended?” said Pangilinan. “We have to think through who can play. And who will coach at least the first game, di ba.”
The Philippines will play its first game in the second round at Iran on September 14 and then will host Qatar in a Sept. 17 game to be played behind closed doors as part of the Fiba punishment for the brawl.
The PBA board has scheduled a meeting the week after the Commissioner’s Cup finals to discuss the players it will lend to Gilas Pilipinas as replacement to those who were suspended.