SAMAHANG Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) program director Tab Baldwin is optimistic that all hands will be on deck for Gilas Pilipinas in the third window of the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers in February.
"I think that with the PBA planning a later start date in 2021, there may not be restrictions on what we can do. There's a lot that has to be done, but I think we're probably looking at bringing PBA players back in the mix," he told Coaches Unfiltered on Thursday.
Baldwin echoed the statements of SBP president Al Panlilio, who expected the PBA players to once again reinforce the national team after Gilas went with an all-cadets squad in the recently concluded window in Manama.
"I think the best players are still in the PBA. In FIBA competition, you do need the experience of playing internationally. It's great that 14 young men got that experience, but when it comes to competition down the road, you need veterans to come in and contribute," Panlilio said.
"You still need June Mar Fajardo in the future. You still need Roger Pogoy, you still need a Japeth Aguilar in combination with...imagine if you have a Kai Sotto there, and then you have Dwight Ramos. It's just an exciting combination to think of moving forward. It's something that I think the program really planned to do: develop young men, expose them to competition."
Plans have been discussed, but until a green light is given, nothing is cast in stone on the composition of the Gilas team in February, Baldwin said.
"We are planning and obviously we have to talk to all of our partners who are involved in the basketball landscape -the PBA, the SBP, and our bosses, and all of the college teams, too," he said.
"But until all the bosses can sit down, we don't know."
Baldwin can only keep his fingers crossed that with the experience the cadets gained in Bahrain and what PBA players bring to the table, the SBP will be able to parade a strong team to take on Korea and Indonesia in the February window.
"We're hoping to have the same access to the same pool of players, and if we can extend that to other players, including the possibility of Ange Kouame getting his naturalization, that would be great as well," the former Gilas coach said.
"I think there were guys in the last window in February, and hopefully most if not all will be interested to be available again, but I'm just gonna wait and see who's available, and then we'll make some decisions on who we would like to bring in."
Gilas is heading to the final window of qualifiers with a 3-0 win-loss record in Group A, needing one more victory to formalize its entry to the continental showpiece in Lebanon next year.