PBA chairman Robert Non laid down a bold move to make the best players available to Gilas Pilipinas and adjust the schedule of the season-ending Governors Cup to give way for the national team's preparation for next year’s Olympic wildcard qualifier.
The league board has scheduled a special meeting on Wednesday noon specifically to discuss how it could accomodate the preparation and participation of the national team to the wildcard tournaments for the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics set in July.
The three meets will be held simultaneously in key cities around the world, is set July 4-10, or at about the same time the Governors Cup playoffs is being held.
“It’s about the scheduling, paanong gagawin natin. And we have to bring it to the board for decision dahil nangangailangan ng adjustment sa third conference,” said Non during the formal press conference of the PBA’s 41st season Tuesday at the Diamond Hotel.
But more importantly, Non bared plans of giving coach Tab Baldwin the liberty to name the players he wanted for the Gilas pool, who will eventually make the final lineup to be named sometime in June next year.
He also added the possibility of having the pool practicing together once a week as early as November.
Baldwin only had less than two months to whip Gilas 3.0 into a competitive team for the Fiba Asia Championship in Changsha, China, where the country finished a strong runner up behind eventual champion China.
The 57-year-old American-New Zealander also failed to get some of the players he coveted to be included in the Gilas roster, specifically San Miguel big man June Mar Fajardo. The two-time league MVP begged off from playing owing to a recurring plantar fasciitis in both his feet.
Despite the national team overachieving, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Manny Pangilinan stressed the need to further beef up Gilas’s roster in the final qualifier for the Rio Summer Games where it will be ranged against world-class competition.
But Non said the pro league has always been supportive of Gilas in making the players available to the national team.
“Lagi namang nandun yun, hindi naman nawawala yun,” he stressed. “Minsan lang may misinterpretation. Hindi naman porke wala ‘yung isa, ayaw na rin ng isa. It’s almost the player’s decision to accept being a member of the national team or not.”
The San Miguel official cited the case of Fajardo, who he said couldn’t have given his best had he suited up for Gilas in China given his current condition.
“Like June Mar, until now hindi pa nga siya nakakapag-practice sa amin. So how can he play for the national team (during the Fiba Asia)?” he said, noting the 6-foot-10 center out of University of Cebu is still 10 pounds overweight with just a few days before the new season kicks off.
“So we also have to look at such factors, kasi may mga valid reasons din naman (ang mga players).”
As to how the board would go about adjusting its schedule to accommodate the training of Gilas, the alternate governor of San Miguel wouldn’t elaborate other than say the Governors Cup could be shortened and the league going on a shortened break too, during the offseason.
“May mga naisip na kami on how to do things. May mga suggestions na galing kay com (Chito Narvasa), kay CEO (Chito Salud), and other board members. We’ll collate lahat ng mga ‘yun,” Non said.