A TOTAL of 19 players have been invited by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) to comprise the pool from which members of the national team will be culled for the coming 27th Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar.
SBP executive director Sonny Barrios said head coach Jong Uichico along with deputies Nash Racela and Josh Reyes came up with the names of the players likely to comprise the squad out to defend the basketball title in the December 11-22 biennial meet.
Barrios said the country’s governing body for the sport will be submitting the names of all 19 players to the SEA Games Task Force either on October 8 or 9. The deadline for the submission of entry by names is October 10.
The SBP official said naturalized player Marcus Douthit and members of the Gilas cadet pool namely, Jake Pascual, Ronald Pascual, Garbo Lanete, Kevin Louie Alas, RR Garcia, and Matt Granuelas are shoo-ins for the squad, while given invitations through their respective coaches were Kiefer Ravena, reigning UAAP MVP Terrence Romeo, Chris Newsome, Mark Belo, Roy Sumang, Arnold Van Opstal, Prince Caperal, Kevin Ferrer, and Jericho Cruz.
Also invited by the SBP are players who have plans to join the coming PBA rookie draft such as Raymund Almazan, Chris Banchero, and two-time UAAP MVP Bobby Ray Parks.
Barrios, a guest in the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at Shakey’s Malate on Tuesday, said the SBP is likely to ask the PBA to allow rookie draftees who will be named to the Philippine team to see action in the SEA Games.
“Ang plano namin ay makiusap sa PBA kung puwede `yung mga rookie draftees ay maipahiram sa SEA Games kung puwede,” he said in the session presented by Shakey’s and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation where he was joined by former cage great Benjie Paras and son Kobe, who won the dunk contest in the Fiba 3x3 U-18 World Championship in Jakarta, Indonesia.
“Ewan ko kung pinangungunahan ko ang PBA, pero we still have to forward our request to them.”
Barrios believes from the pool, Uichico can form a strong and competitive team capable of retaining the title, which the country has won nine straight times since the 1991 SEA Games.
Basketball was not held in both the 2005 and 2009 editions of the meet.
“Kapag SEA Games ang usapan, walang yardstick sa men’s team kung hindi championship,” said the SBP executive director. “Is there pressure? Obviously. So we’re not taking it lightly. There’s definitely no excuse if they (national team) come back here without winning the championship.”
Meanwhile, the women’s team according to Barrios, no longer have a problem as far as its formal entry to the SEA Games is concerned.
He said the matter is now more internal in terms of evaluating whether the team coached by Heidi Ong, should proceed to Myanmar this December, with their performance in this month’s Fiba-Asia Women’s Championship factoring in the decision.
“Dapat creditable `yung performance nila. And what I mean by creditable? Dapat huwag naman `yung natatalo ng 50 puntos. Di naman kailangang mag-champion. Wala rin kaming pinag-usapan kung top three or top four finish,” said the former PBA commissioner.
“So, sa isang banda, nasa kamay na rin nila, depende na sa kanilang performance."