THE simmering diplomatic row between the Philippines and Taiwan has put in jeopardy the title defense of Gilas Pilipinas in the annual William Jones Cup basketball tournament this July in Taipei.
The dilemma is certainly not lost on national coach Chot Reyes.
“Patay tayo, apektado tayo talaga dun,” Reyes told Spin.ph, obviously referring to the present tension between the country and neighboring Taiwan following the death of a Taiwanese fisherman fired upon by Philippine coast guard personnel last week in a disputed territorial area.
Reyes said he’s well aware of the diplomatic tension arising between the two countries, which is why the national team will have to look for other possible options if and when Gilas Pilipinas is not invited to the Jones Cup.
The Jones Cup is an invitational tournament, meaning the host country reserves the right to choose which teams it will invite to the annual event.
“We have to look for other alternatives right now,” added the multi-titled coach, whose Gilas squad won the title last year by beating a US team in the championship game.
Reyes said hes’ hoping the Jones Cup would serve as Gilas’ final buildup in its coming campaign in the Fiba-Asia Men’s Basketball Championship, which the country is hosting for the first time in 40 years in August.
The 15-man Gilas training pool is set to start its two-month preparation in June, beginning with a two-week training camp and series of tune-up matches against club teams in Lithuania.
Former Lithuania national coach Kestusis Kemzura is expected to join the team in its training camp at the seaside resort town of Palanga from June 2-16.
The Filipinos are eyeing no less than a top three finish in this year’s Fiba-Asia showpiece to qualify for next year’s world championships in Spain.