THE PBA board of governors on Wednesday released 17 players to the national team pool, making them available for the Gilas Pilipinas team that will vie in the Olympic wildcard qualifiers in July.
The 17 players were handpicked by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) and released by the board in a well-attended special meeting held on Wednesday at the league's offices in Libis, Quezon City.
At the same time, the PBA board unanimously drafted a resolution to fully support the national basketball team beginning with the July tournament where a spot in the Rio Olympics will be up for grabs.
Among those named to the pool were players from the San Miguel Corp. camp who missed the last Fiba Asia Championship in Changsha, China, namely June Mar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter, Marcio Lassiter, Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio as well as Star forward Ian Sangalang.
Also on the list were two players from Rain or Shine who likewise missed the Changsha tournament: Paul Lee and Jeff Chan. Another addition is Talk 'N Text guard Ryan Reyes.
They were joined by holdovers from the last Gilas 3.0 team of Tab Baldwin: Marc Pingris, Troy Rosario, Calvin Abueva, Gabe Norwood, Matt Ganuelas Rosser, Ranidel de Ocampo, Jayson Castro, and Terrence Romeo.
The players were all requested for release to the national team by Baldwin and were on a list submitted to the PBA board by SBP executive and concurrent Meralco governor Al Panlilio.
From the Gilas 3.0 team that finished runner-up to China in Changsha, gone from the lineup were Asi Taulava, JC Intal, Gary David, Dondon Hontiveros and Sonny Thoss.
Board chairman Robert Non said a four-man ad hoc committee the league formed is the one that will make sure the availability of the 17 players in the national pool.
The committee is composed of board of governors Patrick Gregorio, Alfrancis Chua, Atty. Mamerto Mondragon and commissioner Chito Narvasa, with SBP also having its own counterpart.
“The ad hoc committee will ensure their (players) participation to the team,” said Non during the press conference announcing the list of players included in the Gilas pool. ‘At the team owners’ end, walang problema. Sa players wala rin.
Meralco governor Al Panlilio said the SBP will definitely be very exultant with the development.
“With this team we’re gonna go a lot. Of course, the previous team (Gilas 3.0) played the best that they could, and with the additional players in this list, the team is even stronger,” he said.
The entire 12-man board came in full force. Other than Non (san Miguel), Panlilio (Meralco), Gregorio (Talk ‘N Text), Chua (Ginebra), and Mondragon (Rain or Shine), others who attended the special meeting were vice chairman Eric Arejola (Globalport), treasurer Ramon Fernandez (NLEX), Rene Pardo (Star), Dickie Bachmann (Alaska), Manny Alvarez (Barako Bull), Siliman Sy (Blackwater), Tomas Alvarez (Mahindra), president and CEO Chito Salud, and Narvasa.
The players will start preparing for the Olympic qualifiers with Monday practices for 28 weeks beginning in November before stepping up their training in June, when the league takes a break to give way to the Gilas campaign.
The SBP has been tasked to name the 12 players, including the naturalized player, by January. The rest will be considered as alternates in the event of injuries.
To accomodate Gilas' stint in the July 4-10 qualifiers, the pro league will take a break at the end of the midseason Commissioner's Cup and begin the Governors Cup once the team comes back from the stint in the yet-to-be-named host city.