Big names from the Philippine Basketball Association could soon find themselves playing for the national team anew, especially in elite Asian basketball tournaments like the FIBA Asia Championship, the qualifying event both for the Olympics and the World Championship, and the Asian Games.
PBA commissioner Chito Salud vowed that the pro league will keep its doors open when it comes to serving the country by representing the national team in international tournaments.
“All (the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas) should do is inform us about the calendar and the league will make adjustments on the schedule,” Salud told InterAKTV. “We will sit down with the SBP to discuss the plans. The PBA’s door is always open when it comes to serving the country and we’re mandated to support the SBP.”
The PBA is one of the stakeholders of the SBP and part of its commitment is to help the national team in the elite tournaments.
Yeng Guiao, former head coach of the Powerade Team Pilipinas, which represented the country in the FIBA Asia tournament two years ago, earlier urged the PBA to get itself more involved in the creation of the national team.
“They’re involved in a way, and most of the players who played for (the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national team) in the recent FIBA Asia Championship are playing in the PBA,” said Guiao.
Tim Cone, coach of the Philippine Centennial Team to the Asian Games in 1998, believes the PBA should help out but not get themselves “more involved” in the formation of the national team.
“We would help them, but not disrupt them,” said Cone. “The Gilas program is a successful program, which is why they have overachieved in the FIBA Asia Championship.”
“And I don’t see any reason why we should change a successful program. Changing Rajko Toroman as coach means changing the whole program. It’s a program designed of training and developing players. That’s why the likes of JVee Casio, Mac Baracael, Marcio Lassiter and Chris Lutz were developed and became better players. I expect Gilas to become better in the next two years,” added Cone.
Jong Uichico, head coach of the all-pro national team to the 2002 Busan Asian Games, believes the PBA cannot avoid helping the national team, especially in major international tournaments like the FIBA Asia Championship.
“Hindi natin maiiwasan ‘yan. The bulk of talented players are playing in the PBA,” said Uichico. “I believe it’s only ideal to have the core of the squad to be back in the next two years, possibly a team composed of PBA players and a mixture of a few young players from the collegiate and amateur level.”
“Gilas will certainly need PBA’s reinforcements. Hindi nga nila kinaya in their three-year program, what more in the next two years,” added Uichico.
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