A CHAMPIONSHIP and a fourth-place finish are not bad for a one-month-old national team.
That was basically San Miguel Corp. sports director Noli Eala's assessment of Smart Gilas Pilipinas 2.0 after the national team followed the country's first Jones Cup championship in 14 years with a fourth-place finish in the Fiba Asia Cup in Tokyo.
"Kung ako ang tatanungin, I think they (Gilas team) are right on track. We just got hurt during the Asia Cup," Eala told Spin.ph while watching the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel-Air21 preseason game at the Xavier gym in San Juan.
But if the team wants to reinforce its lineup in the buildup for next year's Fiba Asia for Men in Beirut, Eala reiterated that San Miguel Corp.'s offer to lend its players to the program still stands.
"Our position in the management remains the same," said Eala, reiterating an earlier statement that SMC won't stand in the way of any players from Petron Blaze, Barangay Ginebra and San Mig Coffee joining the Gilas program.
All it would take is for Gilas to make the request to SMC management, he added.
Eala even went as far as saying that SMC June Mar Fajardo, the top pick in this year's rookie draft, can be made available to Gilas so long as requests are sent to SMC management.
The 6-10 Fajardo is one of five players who Reyes hopes he can add to his lineup, saying the giant rookie can fill the team's need for a back-up for naturalized player Marcus Douthit. For full story, click here.
"He'll definitely be an asset [for Gilas]," Eala said of the 6-10 freshman from Cebu.
Eala said he hopes Gilas could play more overseas tournaments together overseas, pointing out that it was the national team's unfamiliarity with Fiba rules that hastened its downfall in the Fiba Asia Cup.
"We won the Jones Cup because the tournament isn't really sanctioned by the Fiba. So in the Jones Cup, they allow more holding, di 'yan gaano tinatawagan," said the former Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas official.
"But in the Asia Cup, because Fiba rules are applied, mas naging mahigpit ang tawagan and a lot of traveling calls were also made. So that's (Fiba rules) something Gilas needs to adjust to," explained Eala.
The former PBA commissioner said tighter calls on holding and traveling violations may seem to be small, but they created serious repercussions as far as Reyes' player rotation is concerned.
"The Asia Cup is obviously not like the PBA that allows 14 players, only 12, so piling pili lang talaga ang gagamitin natin sa laro. Kung may ma-foul trouble or may na-injury, gaya ng nangyari sa atin recently, our team won't have time to recover and our rotation will be disrupted," noted Eala.