GILAS Pilipinas is set to ask the PBA board to exempt national players from playing for their mother ballclubs in the season-ending Governors Cup so they can focus on preparations for the Fiba World Cup in Spain and possibly the Asian Games in Korea.
No less than Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Manny V. Pangilinan bared the plan on Tuesday night ahead of SBP officials' talks with the PBA board over the concessions the pro league is willing to give in Gilas' buildup for the two major tournaments.
“From what I am hearing from (Gilas coach) Chot (Reyes), hinihingi niya around 2-3 months before the start of the Fiba World Cup,” Pangilinan told Spin.ph. "So kung papayagan ng PBA at ng kanilang home teams, the Gilas players will be out for the third conference."
They Said It!
“From what I am hearing from (Gilas coach) Chot (Reyes), hinihingi niya around 2-3 months before the start of the Fiba World Cup so kung papayagan ng PBA at ng kanilang home teams, the Gilas players will be out for the third conference." - SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan
That's the reason why the businessman-sportsman wants the SBP to begin talks with the PBA board as early as next month to finalize the details of Gilas' preparations for the world championships, which is set from August 30 to September 14 in Spain.
“Sana by January, nakausap na ang PBA because it might take time for the PBA and the home teams to decide,” Pangilinan said. “Basta everything will be in consultation with the PBA. Training schedule na sana sila starting early next year.”
So far, the PBA has only approved once-a-week practices for Gilas beginning in January but has left only a two-week window for the national players to prepare for the World Cup, assuming the season-ending Governors Cup Finals goes the full seven games.
PBA commissioner Chito Salud has also bared plans to tap Gilas for the Asian Games which will be held in Incheon, South Korea days after the World Cup (September 19 to October 4) - a request which member teams still need to approve.
Exempting national players from one conference may be a tough ask for PBA ballclubs, although not entirely new.
Members of the all-pro national teams to the 1998 and 2002 Asian Games were also excused from playing for their mother ballclubs during the reign of the late commissioner Jun Bernardino.
The current PBA board, however, has bent backwards in the past to accommodate the national team, agreeing to tweak last season's schedule to give Gilas two full months of preparation for the Fiba-Asia championships in Manila where it finished runner-up behind Iran.
Tweaking the PBA schedule may be a stretch this time since the board has already said, through chair Mon Segismundo, that the league wants to give Gilas maximum preparation time "while at the same time adhering to its season schedule."
“We want to maximize the preparation time of Gilas. But at the same time, we want to also achieve both our objective, which is, for the PBA to adhere to its (season) schedule and optimize the preparation time (for the Fiba World Cup),” Segismundo said.
Gilas coach Reyes has also expressed his wish to have a "free hand" in naming the members of the World Cup-bound team - unlike in the last Fiba-Asia championships where teams only mandated to release one player each to the national team.
[For full story, see VIDEO: Chot Reyes wants free hand in choosing players for World Cup-bound Gilas team]