MANILA, Philippines – Isaac Go and the rest of 2019 Gilas Pilipinas draftees can still suit up for the national team even after their contracts with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) expired.
SBP executive Butch Antonio confirmed on Tuesday, February 1, that the federation released Go, Rey Suerte, Matt and Mike Nieto, and Allyn Bulanadi two years after they were loaned by the PBA teams that drafted them to the national team.
That means Go (Terrafirma), Suerte (Blackwater), Matt (NLEX), Mike (Rain or Shine), and Bulanadi (Alaska) are free to sign with their respective PBA teams for the Governors’ Cup, which will restart after a month-long postponement on February 11.
“PBA and SBP have agreed with the understanding that if and when we should need them, with proper coordination, the players will be made available,” Antonio said through a text message.
Among the five players, Go saw action the most as he appeared in all of the Gilas Pilipinas’ games in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers and FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Suerte, Matt, and Mike all enjoyed their fair share of national team spotlight over the past two years, while Bulanadi never suited up for the Philippines due to untimely injuries.
The players’ release comes after SBP appointed Chot Reyes as new national team head coach following the exit of Tab Baldwin, who stepped down from his post just weeks before the squad kicks off its FIBA World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers campaign.
With the transition, Antonio said the team is still in the process of “putting things together” from the player pool to the practice venue.
The country will host Group A for the first two windows later this February as the Philippines takes on Korea twice, New Zealand, and India. – Rappler.com