FIBA World Cup

SBP out to pick ‘best of the best’ in Gilas’ World Cup bid

Waylon Galvez
SBP out to pick ‘best of the best’ in Gilas’ World Cup bid

UPSET LOSS. June Mar Fajardo and Gilas Pilipinas settle for silver in the Southeast Asian Games.


‘Let me put it this way, because of the lessons learned, we are reaching out to the major stakeholders,’ says SBP executive director Sonny Barrios, just weeks after Gilas Pilipinas’ SEA Games debacle

MANILA, Philippines – With a year left before country’s co-hosting of the 2023 FIBA World Cup, top officials of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) are gathering all the major stakeholders to form the best possible Gilas Pilipinas squad.

SBP executive director Sonny Barrios said it is important to discuss the formation of the national team not only within the SBP, or coaching staff and the management of Gilas Pilipinas, as it should also include other stakeholders of basketball, from the collegiate level to the professional.

“I can’t answer that cut and dry, if it’s going to be young (college) players or it’s going to be PBA players, or a mixture” said Barrios in the weekly online Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday, June 7, two weeks after the national men’s basketball team suffered from a major upset loss in the Southeast Asian Games.

“Let me put it this way, because of the lessons learned, we are reaching out to the major stakeholders.”

“We are being inclusive in approaching this monumental task of forming the so-called best of the best,” said Barrios, adding that aside from the PBA, the UAAP and the NCAA, other major leagues will be involved in forming Gilas for the World Cup.

“Fielding the best that we can is of utmost importance so that the cohesion and [the preparation] for an extended period of time – and not just a couple of weeks or even a month – will be better. The longer, the better,” said the former PBA commissioner.

The World Cup is the next big event for basketball, which the Philippines will co-host with Indonesia and Japan. The country will host it for the first time since Manila hosted the 1978 World Cup.

Last May, the national team suffered a debacle after Gilas lost to Indonesia in the gold medal match in the 31st SEA Games. The shocker ended the country’s win streak in the region of 14 straight gold medal wins in the biennial meet.

That is the reason why the SBP, under president Al Panlilio, is looking to rebound and give the country the best version of Gilas Pilipinas in this coming FIBA World Cup.

Part of this formation is the inclusion of a solid naturalized player, which the national team didn’t have in the SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam as naturalized player Angelo Kouame failed to join Gilas.

“There is also that aspect of preparation for the composition of the national team. It’s in the radar of coach Chot Reyes on who will be our naturalized player,” Barrios said.

Before the World Cup campaign, the national team will see action this June and July in the World Cup qualifiers in New Zealand and Manila, as well as the FIBA Asia Cup Championship in Indonesia.

Nenad Vucinic of Serbia will handle the Gilas team for the World Cup qualifiers, while Reyes returns as head coach for the Asia Cup Championship – an arrangement, Barrios said, that has been approved even before the SEA Games.

Barrios said the basketball federation is in constant communication with its Japanese and Indonesian counterparts to ensure the success of the quadrennial showpiece being co-hosted in three different countries for the first time in history.

Also, FIBA officials personally inspected the three venues where the games will be played, namely the Mall of Asia Arena, Smart Araneta Coliseum, and the Philippine Arena, last April.

“They visited the three playing venues and the official hotels where delegations would stay during the World Cup,” Barrios, who was named event director for the country’s World Cup hosting, said in Filipino. –