THE moment Manny V. Pangilinan bared his decision to revive the original Gilas program, a guessing game has started on who will be part of the next pool of amateur players that will make up the bulk of the national team.
Pangilinan himself supplied some of the answers, mentioning the names of Kiefer Ravena, Mac Belo, Mike Tolomia, Jio Jalalon, Roger Pogoy, Russel Escoto, and Von Pessumal among the 'at least 14 players' who have agreed to give long-term commitments to the national team.
These players, the outgoing Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) head added, have all agreed in principle to participate in the program that will see the Gilas cadet pool representing the country in tournaments overseas starting in 2017 once Fiba begins its home-and-away qualifiers for the 2019 World Cup.
MVP said tthe next step is documentation, meaning all the targeted players will be signed to long-term contracts which, among other things, would keep them from turning pro during their stint with the Gilas cadet pool.
Sources told SPIN.ph that Gilas team manager Butch Antonio started drawing up the concept of a Gilas pool similar to the NCC team of the eighties 'four or five months ago' and that he has started the process of talking to the players shortly thereafter.
Antonio himself told us the blueprint of the Gilas cadet plan has already been approved by Pangilinan but denied that the implementation is already in the advanced stage as it was made out to be, insisting that they are still in the process of 'talent identification,' meaning they are still identifying which player to invite to the pool.
Talks with the players mentioned by Pangilinan, Antonio added, were 'informal' in nature. He insisted there is still no official master list of players that have been tapped for the program.
How about Bobby Ray Parks, he was asked.
The question is logical, considering Parks plies his trade in the NBA D-League and therefore may have more freedom than PBA players to suit up for Gilas in the home-and-away qualifiers beginning next year, that is unless he realizes his dream to make it to the NBA ranks.
Besides, Parks' decision to join the current Gilas pool of mostly PBA players ahead of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila also shows a healthy relationship with the SBP.
Antonio said the SBP has yet to talk to Parks or his representative about the new Gilas cadet pool, but admitted that it will be hard to pass up on Parks if he is amenable to join the program.
"If we're thinking long-term, then it's hard for his name not to be there," Antonio told SPIN.ph.
But then again, Antonio, who is also the SBP director for external affairs, said he won't know for sure about Parks' availability and willingness until he talks to the two-time UAAP MVP.
Parks' agent, Charlie Dy, also confirmed that no talks have been held with SBP about the possibility of joining the planned Gilas cadet pool.
Dy also said Parks' focus at the moment is solely on his bid to land a spot in the Gilas team to the Manila qualifiers and he has yet to make definite plans beyond that.