IF plans push through, Gilas Pilipinas will play as a guest team in the coming 46th season of the PBA.
The idea was raised on Monday during a special board meeting where the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) also disclosed that it will be sending the names of players it wants to tap for the PBA special draft within the week.
“Na-suggest na puwedeng isali ang Gilas sa liga na puwede silang mag-champion,” said commissioner Willie Marcial.
Although past national teams also saw action in previous PBA seasons as guest squads, none were given the privilege to compete for the championship except the Northern Consolidated Corp (NCC) squad of the late Ron Jacobs in the mid-80s.
Then bannered by the country's top amateur stars and reinforced by naturalized players Jeff Moore and Dennis Still, the national team joined the pro league as guest ballclub during the 1984 and 85 seasons and emerged champion in the 1985 Reinforced Conference when it swept Manila Beer in four games in the finals.
At the same time, Marcial said the SBP is submitting a minimum of three and maximum of five names who will be selected during the special draft on March 14 and become part of the Gilas Pilipinas pool.
The PBA chief said the names will be given to his office within the week .
“Ibibigay sa akin yung pangalan within two to three days. Ang suggestion nila three to five players ang kukuhanin nila,” said Marcial.
All 12 board of governors were present including chairman Ricky Vargas and Al S. Panlilio, the SBP president.
The special draft will have the same order as the regular draft, according to Marcial, meaning Terrafirma gets the first pick followed by NorthPort, NLEX (with the Nos. 3 and 4 selection), and Rain or Shine.
Marcial said Gilas could be the 13th team for the season-opening Philippine Cup if it won’t be having training camps abroad or competition to join overseas.
The team is expected to include in its roster the five Gilas special draftees in 2019 in Isaac Go, Rey Suerte, Matt Nieto, Allyn Bulanadi, and Mike Nieto, and the draftees to be selected in next month’s draft.
Some of the Gilas cadets could also be made part of the team to complete the lineup.
“Basta makabuo sila ng 12 or 14 players,” said Marcial. “Gagamitin talaga nila (yung mga draftees) para makapag-ensayo and makapag-practice din yung mga players.”
If the SBP doesn’t find the idea feasible and Gilas Pilipinas has no tournament to prepare for, the board proposes that special draftees be allowed to suit up for their respective mother ballclubs in the league.
By that it meant seeing Go finally playing for Terrafirma, Suerte with Blackwater, Matt Nieto with NLEX, Bulanadi for Alaska, and Mike Nieto for Rain or Shine, along with the other special draftees for this year.
“Kung ayaw naman nila (SBP), baka puwedeng ipahiram yung mga players and isali na sa kanila respective teams,” stressed Marcial. “So yun ang mga options and suggestions na ibinigay ng board.”
The plan is initially for the Philippine Cup only.
“As of now, first conference pa lang. Tingnan din natin kasi by August meron ng FIBA Asia Cup and other windows ng FIBA,” said Marcial.