GILAS Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin remains hopeful the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) and the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) can find a middle ground for the continued participation of professional players in the national team program.
The Fiba calendar's home-and-away format make it difficult for the pro league to adjust its season schedule and release players to the national team, a fact that is not lost on the SBP, which in turn, decided to form a new Gilas squad made up of cadet players.
Still, Baldwin sees the two cage bodies working together again for the sake of national cause.
“I don’t see it happening (now), but in this environment that we have, in this basketball landscape, one of the things that we all learned is that the unpredictable should be predictable,” he stressed.
The SBP and PBA have yet to talk about how to go the process of lending pros to the Gilas program again, although the matter will be one of the areas to be discussed by the country’s basketball federation with the newly-created ad hoc committee which represents the pro league.
The ad hoc committee is composed of Ginebra’s Alfrancis Chua, Patrick Gregorio of TNT Katropa, Atty. Mamerto Mondragon of Rain or Shine, and league commissioner Chito Narvasa. The SBP is represented by newly-elected president Al Panlilio, who also happens to be Meralco’s representative to the league board.
In the absence of a new agreement between the two bodies, the SBP will have to make do with fielding in a national team comprise of cadet players in the coming Fiba Asia Challenge Cup in Iran, Tehran next month.
The two parties are set to meet soon to thrash out issues, beginning with the rookie draft process for players who will be signed to the Gilas cadets program.
Baldwin remains hopeful.
“At this point, there are no plans that I know of to include any pro players in the ranks of the (national) team,” said Baldwin.
With an all-cadet roster bound for the Sept. 9-18 meet where points are earned to qualify for the FIBA Asia Cup (formerly FIBA Asia Championship), the Gilas mentor said expectations should be tempered for coach Josh Reyes’ squad.
‘We have to understand that this is a new team, that it is dipping its toe to the water for the first time, and the challenge is going to be big,” he said.
“I suspect the caliber of competition will be near Fiba Asia,” Baldwin added. “And our boys will gonna have to learn quickly, and we’ll gonna have to play well without a heck of a lot preparations.”