MANILA, Philippines – Disappointed by Gilas Pilipinas’ early exit in the FIBA Asia Cup, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) arranged a meeting with the basketball stakeholders in the country set on August 1 with the goal of forming the best team possible for the FIBA World Cup next year.
Gilas finished ninth in the continental showpiece following a 102-81 loss to Japan in their knockout playoff, marking the first time in 15 years the team missed the Asia Cup quarterfinals.
The loss followed up a dismaying campaign in the Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam, where the squad fell short of a 14th straight gold medal after a shocking loss to Indonesia.
In a statement, SBP president Al Panlilio called on basketball stakeholders like the PBA, UAAP, and NCAA to sacrifice and align their schedule with Gilas’ calendar in the lead-up to the World Cup, which the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia will co-host.
Panlilio said lack of training time and player availability must be addressed, with the national team participating in a series of international tournaments before the global basketball showpiece comes off the wraps in August next year.
“We really have to give it full support from all basketball stakeholders,” said Panlilio.
Gilas will play three more windows in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers in August, November, and February before it tries to reclaim its throne in the SEA Games in Cambodia in May.
Expecting a better showing, the SBP said Filipino-American NBA player Jordan Clarkson will “likely” play in the fourth window of the Asian Qualifiers, where he will be supported by PBA players from eliminated teams in the ongoing Philippine Cup.
The Philippine Cup finals will kick off on August 21, just in time before the Philippines faces Lebanon on August 25 and Saudi Arabia on August 29.
In terms of tapping the services of national team standouts playing in foreign leagues like Japan and Korea, Panlilio said the federation will work with FIBA to secure their clearance.
Big man Kai Sotto is also being eyed by the SBP to see action in the upcoming tournaments.
“The time for leagues to sacrifice and adjust schedules with Gilas in mind is now as the World Cup is only a year away,” said Panlilio. – Rappler.com