IN the event national coach Chot Reyes fails to find a suitable pre-Fiba-Asia tournament overseas, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) plans to stage a pocket tournament in Manila that will pit Gilas Pilipinas against teams from New Zealand, Australia, and the US.
SBP executive director Sonny Barrios said the federation is trying its best to come up with a competitive tournament that will serve as the final testing ground in the national team’s buildup for the coming Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship in Manila.
The Gilas preparation for the August 1-11 meet was thrown off course after its invitation to the Jones Cup was withdrawn following the recent diplomatic row between the Philippines and Taiwan.
Barrios said that if the plans push through, Reyes wants a pocket tournament that will truly test the strength of his team.
“Gusto kasi ni Chot mas malakas, mas magaling para matuto tayo. Ayaw niya `yung mas mahina sa atin. Wala tayong matutunan run,” said the SBP official.
Barrios said SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan is more than willing to shoulder the expenses for the entire tournament.
“Within reasonable (situations), mukhang okay naman na yun,” said the longtime basketball official. “Unang-una all or nothing na tayo. Milyon de milyon na `yung nakataya sa atin dito sa hosting eh di galingan na natin, di ba?”
Teams from New Zealand and Kazakhstan have reportedly signified their intention of joining the Manila tournament, similar to the ones held in Manila in 2010 featuring Smart-Gilas, Jordan, a local club from China, and PBA teams Talk `N Text, and Ginebra as part of the nationals’ preparation for the Guangzhou Asian Games.
The SBP plans to hold the pocket tournament simultaneously with the Jones Cup.
But Barrios stressed the SBP is still keeping its fingers crossed that Reyes will be able to find worthy tournaments abroad where Gilas can suit up.
“We’re still hoping na may makukuha si coach Chot na ideal tournament. Actually, we are not looking at the negative na hindi talaga makakakuha. Sana may makuha pa,” said Barrios.
Currently in Lithuania for a two-week training camp with the nationals, Reyes has been calling contacts and friends in the US, Europe, and other Asian countries in the hope of booking a tournament appearance that will replace their scrapped stint in the Jones Cup.
“Sana may makuha sila. They are burning the lines. We need high-level tournaments para mahasa `yung mga players natin. Hindi pwede na after Lithuania ensayo na lang,” added Barrios.