Yeng Guiao says it's never too early to start Gilas buildup for 2023 Fiba World Cup
Kiefer Ravena, a member of Gilas' 16-man pool for the 2019 World Cup qualifiers, plays a game of one-on-one with younger brother Thirdy, who is part of the younger pool of players formed for the 2023 Fiba World Cup. Jerome Ascano

AS the cliché goes, the early bird catches the worm.

While former national coach Yeng Guiao believes putting together a pool of players likely to comprise the Gilas Pilipinas team to the 2023 FIBA World Cup is a little premature, he lauded the effort of building and forming the possible core of the team this early.

“What’s good is we’re starting early. Importante maaga pa lang may foresight na tayo, may plano na tayo, so when the time comes, we are well prepared,” said the former national coach and current NLEX mentor.

Guiao didn’t have such luxury when he was named head coach of the Powerade-PH team which campaigned in the 2009 FIBA-Asia Cup (formerly FIBA Asia Men’s Championship) in Tianjin, China.

The 58-year-old Guiao only had six months to whip the team into a cohesive unit that eventually made the quarterfinals and ended up in eighth place, just before the Gilas Pilipinas program came into being in the next staging of the meet in 2011.

Gilas coach Chot Reyes released last week an initial 23-man list that will comprise the pool for the 2023 World Cup, although he made it clear the lineup is by ‘no means final.’

Guiao agreed, saying the pool is bound to constantly change in the years leading up to the 2023 showpiece.

“That’s very far into the future. Marami pang puwedeng mangyari diyan,” he said. “There are other new talent that can break into that list or there are people in that list that can still drop out.”

Among those still to be named to the pool are La Salle players Ricci Rivero, Aljun Melecio, and Andrei Caracut, although Rivero showed up at the Meralco gym when the two Gilas pools for both the 2019 FIBA World Cup qualifier and 2023 showcase practiced together on Monday night. 

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