PBA president Chito Salud backs move to revert to Gilas cadet program
Chito Salud says the Gilas cadet program is the way to go for the national team. Jerome Ascano

PBA president and CEO Chito Salud is batting for a return to the cadet program where the next batch of national team players will come from following the drawback encountered in the formation of Gilas 3.0.

“I hope these events will serve as an impetus to revisit the very sound concept of building a cadet of players who will be developed as a team that will train and play together for a considerably longer period of time,” the former league commissioner said in his speech during the PBA Press Corps Awards Night on Wednesday at the Century Park Hotel.

Salud said a return to the cadet program that was started by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) in 2008 with Rajko Toroman and later abandoned after a fourth-place finish in the 2011 Fiba Asia Championship in Wuhan, China is more timely, given the new calendar of world basketball body Fiba.

Under a new qualification system patterned after soccer's Fifa and set to be implemented in 2017, Fiba will hold four home-and-away qualifiers in June, September, November and February to determine Asia's representatives to the 2019 World Cup of basketball.

The new system is set to cause schedule clashes that put into doubt the availability of PBA and NBA players to the national team in the qualifiers.

Salud's stand mirrors the sentiments of SBP vice-president Ricky Vargas, who, in the absence of support from some PBA teams to Gilas 3.0, bared they are seriously considering reviving the cadet program.

[See In the absence of full support from PBA teams, SBP mulls return to Gilas cadet program]

Breaking his silence on the issue, Salud gave gratitude to past, present, and future Gilas players and said he understands the “disappointment of some in not seeing players they think should be in the team.”

“But I simply refuse to indulge in it further than that,” he said. “It’s a waste (of time) to point fingers.”

Salud likewise stressed that giving much attention to the absentees is unfair to those who are currently in the team.

“It is a disservice to those who have volunteered to play to hear that there are more preferred players who should be in their place instead.”

[See How does Gilas 3.0 stack up against Gilas 2.0? Let's take a closer look]

Salud instead focused on the “silver linings,” including the addition of national team rookies who make Gilas harder to scout.

“From giving our opponents the element of surprise to deepening our pool of talents for the future,” he said. “That, I think, is the clear outcome of what these events have done.”


“With the Philippines back in the world stage, it is time that the PBA will continue to do its share in supporting Gilas as it has done in the past,” Salud concluded.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos