Gilas cadets set for Asiad call-up as PBA can no longer afford to take a break during Games
Gilas will likely send a team of cadets to the Asian Games in August. Jerome Ascano

DESPITE opting not to take a break during the country’s campaign in the Asian Games, the ongoing PBA season is expected to stretch all the way to December.

The league’s decision to give way to Gilas Pilipinas’ stint in the FIBA World Cup qualifiers in July and September has further stretched its season that it can no longer afford to disrupt its calendar when the Asiad unfolds in Indonesia.

This year’s Asiad, to be held in the cities of Jakarta and Palembang, is set from August 18 to September 2.

“Made-delay na masyado yung season kung hihinto rin kami ng laro during the Asian Games,” said Commissioner Willie Marcial.

The next qualifying window of the World Cup is set from June 29 to July 2, while the start of the second round of qualifiers is from September 14 to 17, affecting the playing schedule of both the Commissioner’s and Governors Cup, respectively.

The PBA board has already decided that no games will be held for a week prior to the qualifiers, meaning players who are part of the Gilas pool are going to practice solely with the national team.

“Ang hirap kapag pati Asian Games hihinto kami. Parang taas-baba yung (playing) schedule namin nun from June to September,” added Marcial.

While the league and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) are still in talks about pro players making up the Gilas team to the Asiad, the possibility of sending instead the 23-man cadet pool to Indonesia looms.

The Gilas young guns have begun to train daily under coaches Jong Uichico and Josh Reyes since announcing the team will be seeing action in this year’s Filoil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup, which starts on April 21.

Gilas coach Chot Reyes said there's a chance that members of the cadet pool can make the team bound for the Jones Cup, an annual basketball competition traditionally held every July in Taipei.

Reyes, however, said the plan is easier said than done since most of the cadets are still studying.

“We are planning on putting some of them sa Jones Cup team but ‘yung July, August, pasukan kasi so we have to contend with their class schedules. It’s very difficult,” said Reyes.

Then there’s the FIBA 3x3 World Cup which the country is hosting from June 8 to 12 at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan. The PBA likewise won’t take a break during the tournament, but the players who will be named to the Philippine team will be pulled out of their respective mother ballclubs.

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“Yung mga players lang na masasama sa (3x3) team ang hindi palalaruin,” said the league commissioner.

Going by the national team’s schedule, Marcial said the league’s 43rd season could be over, at the latest, by the first week of December.

After just a week, the PBA holds its annual Draft on December 16 while 44th season will be unveiled on January 6.

“All of these adjustments are made to accommodate and give way to Gilas Pilipinas,” said Marcial.  

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos