TALK `N Text may be struggling in the ongoing PBA Commissioner’s Cup, but coach Norman Black said lending the team’s top players to Gilas Pilipinas remains a top priority considering the rare opportunity the country has of returning to the world championships.
Black, who conducted the regular Monday night practice of the national team in place of coach Chot Reyes at the Philsports Arena, told Spin.ph the task of preparing the team for the Fiba-Asia tourney maybe a gigantic one, but with a solid talent base, everything is possible.
“I think we all agree to give coach Chot the best opportunity to make it to the top three in the Fiba-Asia. We (Tropang Texters) just won the All-Filipino Cup title. The team has four championships in the last four years, and maybe, in the third conference, if we can get a good import, we can win (the Governors Cup title),” Black said.
“But we will never, ever in my lifetime have an opportunity to make it to the world championships. It won’t happen. So we have to take advantage of it (Fiba-Asia). As far as I’m concerned, I want to win this conference. But I also wanted to be part of history, part of the team that makes it to the world championships. Even if we get blown out by USA or Spain, at least we were there,” the multi-titled PBA mentor added.
The 55-year-old Black said given Gilas Pilipinas has a naturalized player in Marcus Douthit and a number of agile and talented big men in its roster, it is just a matter of putting the pieces together and coming up with a stronger showing in front of its countrymen in a showpiece which the country is hosting for the first time in 40 years.
The Fiba-Asia event is set August 1-11 at the Mall of Asia Arena where reigning champion China, Iran, and Jordan lead the short list of top favorites.
“Talent (in the national team) has improved. As far as size is concerned, we have a naturalized player. This is probably the best chance (to win the Fiba-Asia men’s title) right now, plus the fact that it will be held here in Manila,” noted Black, who handled the national squad that placed fourth in the Asian Games in Hiroshima, Japan in 1994.
“We have a big team. We have the talent. And we came in fourth place the last time. We just need to take one step to the top three. That’s been our goal,” he added.
The top three teams in the Fiba-Asia meet earn the right to represent the region in next year's world championships.
The core of the Gilas Pilipinas team that won the 34th William Jones Cup basketball tournament is comprised of the main bulk of the 16-man national training pool team - namely LA Tenorio, Gary David, Jeff Chan, Gabe Norwood, Sonny Thoss, Ranidel de Ocampo, Larry Fonacier, Jared Dillinger, and naturalized player Marcus Douthit.
Tapped to reinforce the team are San Mig's Marc Pingris, Petron rookie June Mar Fajardo, Jimmy Alapag, Jayson Castro, Ryan Reyes, Japeth Aguilar and amateur Greg Slaughter, who was picked up from the Gilas cadet pool.
Talk ’N Text forward Kelly Williams is no longer part of the Gilas pool since he has taken an indefinite leave of absence due to health reasons.