Smart Gilas Pilipinas 2.0 is set to extend letters of invitation to the mother teams of the players in the 20-man national pool as head coach Chot Reyes begins the process of forming his squad for the Fiba Asia for Men in Beirut next year.
Reyes told Spin.ph on Thursday that the letters will be addressed both to the players and their mother teams, the first step in what he hopes would lead to the participation of players from San Miguel Corp-owned teams in the Gilas program.
“We’re in the process of drafting the invitation letters right now, and we want to send them out as soon as possible para maumpisahan na,” Reyes said, a day before his departure for the United States where he will attend seminars and scout for Fil-American prospects.
Six players from San Miguel-owned teams – James Yap and Marc Pingris of San Mig Coffee, Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter and Alex Cabagnot of Petron, and Enrico Villanueva of Barangay Ginebra – were part of the original pool which was given the green light by the PBA board to participate in the Gilas program in a verbal agreement with Reyes.
However, only Villanueva ended up joining the team in the last Jones Cup tournament in Taipei and the Fiba Asia Cup in Tokyo, with Yap, Pingris, Santos, Lassiter, and Cabagnot declining the invitations citing either injuries or other reasons.
SMC sports director Noli Eala has said that the Ramon Ang-led conglomerate is open to loaning its players to the Gilas program, so long as letters of invitation are sent and the requests go through the proper channels.
“We’ll do whatever it takes to have these players play for Gilas,” said Reyes. “We have no ego when it comes to making the requests. We’ll do whatever they want.”
In the wake of Gilas’ fourth-place finish in the last Fiba Asia Cup, Reyes had expressed his hope to have Pingris, Santos, Talk ‘N Text’s Kelly Williams, Ateneo’s Greg Slaughter, and Petron rookie June Mar Fajardo in the team for next year’s Fiba Asia for Men, which serves as the regional qualifier for the 2014 world championships.
An invitation is now necessary to retain LA Tenorio’s services in the team since the Jones Cup hero has been traded by Alaska to Ginebra in the course of his stint with Gilas in the offseason.