THE Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) intends to work hand-in-hand with the PBA so Team Pilipinas can prepare the best possible way for its campaign in the coming FIBA World Cup in China.
SBP president Al Panlilio is set to meet with Commissioner Willie Marcial to once again revisit the PBA season calendar in the hope of accommodating the training schedule of the national team for the Aug. 31 to Sept. 15 showpiece.
“What we need right now is to look at the PBA calendar and come up with the best training schedule for our Gilas Pilipinas,” said Panlilio from Shenzhen, China where he attended the World Cup official drawing of lots on Saturday night.
And its good the entire PBA board led by chairman Ricky Vargas along with Marcial were also in the Chinese metropolis to see the Philippines drawn in Group D with European powers Serbia and Italy and African champion Angola.
Panlilio described the bracket as a ‘very challenging group.’
“Serbia is a basketball super power and ranked No. 4 in the world,” he said, noting the presence of four Serbians in the NBA today who could possibly play in the World Cup, namely 7-foot Nikola Jokic, 7-foot-3 Boban Marjanovic, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Nemanja Bjelica.
Same thing with Italy, which is No. 13 in the world, according to Panlilio, and has NBA stars Danilo Galinari and Marco Bellenelli.
“Angola, although ranked No. 36, is one of the best teams in Africa,” added the SBP president.
The Philippines is currently ranked 31st by Fiba.
“It is obvious that we are the overwhelming underdogs, but we are certainly not going to give up,” said Panlilio. “The competition is going to be a lot harder, and we are compelled to bring the best available talent and give it all we’ve got to compete and win games.”
Panlilio was with SBP chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan, executive director Sonny Barrios, and special assistant to the president and Team Pilipinas scout Ryan Gregorio in China for the draw.
Vargas and Marcial, meanwhile, were with board members Atty. Mamerto Mondragon (Rain or Shine), Robert Non (San Miguel), Rene Pardo (Magnolia), Eric Arejola (NorthPort), Siliman Sy (Blackwater), Alfrancis Chua (Ginebra), Bobby Rosales (Columbian Dyip), Rod Franco (NLEX), Dickie Bachmann (Alaska), league counsel Atty. Melvin Mendoza, and marketing chief Gelo Serrano.
Pangilinan hosted the joint SBP-PBA delegation to a sumptuous dinner on the eve of the World Cup draw.
The group returns to the country on Sunday.