THE Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas(SBP) is very much open to the offer made by the PBA to allow Gilas Pilipinas to see action in the season-opening Philippine Cup.
“We’re definitely open to the idea of playing in the PBA and once the team arrives from Doha, we will sit down with the PBA to discuss this matter further,” said SBP President Al S. Panlilio in a statement on Tuesday.
Gilas to participate in all-Filipino Conference
In a special board meeting, the pro league opened its door to the national team by agreeing to allow Gilas to play as a guest team in the all-Filipino conference, with the team officially reflecting in the standings.
Panlilio appreciated the gestured made by the pro league under board chairman Ricky Vargas and commissioner Willie Marcial.
"The SBP is thankful to PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial and the Board of Governors for extending an invitation to Gilas Pilipinas to join their competitions this season," said the SBP chief.
"The PBA has been a valuable partner to the SBP and this invitation only reasserts the league's commitment to helping our Gilas Pilipinas program in whatever they can," Panlilio added. "Aside from lending players, assistant coaches, and even head coaches for the national team's cause, SBP appreciates the PBA's willingness to adjust their competition to accommodate our team."
Previous efforts to integrate Gilas in the PBA
In the past, the national team has already competed in a PBA tournament, the last of which came in 2011 when Smart-Gilas Pilipinas saw action in the Commissioner's Cup. The squad, bannered by naturalized player Marcus Douthit, Japeth Aguilar, Marcio Lassiter, Mark Barroca, JVee Casio, Chris Tiu, among others, went to the semifinals but lost to Barangay Ginebra.
"We know the value of being able to play games against PBA teams on a regular basis as evidenced by the exploits of Smart-Gilas 1 back in 2011," said Panlilio. "Training is important for any team but you learn a lot about your teammates when you go up against strong opposition."
Gilas Pilipinas is now in the homestretch of its preparations for the final window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers, with the team set to depart for Doha, Qatar on Saturday.
"Right now the focus of Gilas Pilipinas program director Tab Baldwin together with his coaching staff is preparing our team for the upcoming games against South Korea and Indonesia," said Panlilio.