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SBP head Panlilio explains PBA stars' exclusion from Gilas Men pool

Kiefer Ravena even expressed his commitment to join Gilas Men for the FIBA ACQ November window, but he has to give way for the meantime. Dennis Acosta (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--A good number of fans were intrigued when the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas unveiled its Gilas Pilipinas Men lineup for the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers November window in Manama, Bahrain.

Despite the likes of Kiefer Ravena, CJ Perez, and Chris Standhardinger becoming available after their respective PBA teams got eliminated from postseason contention, the SBP took a different route and brought in a young crew mainly composed of the Gilas Cadets.

[Related Story: Cadets-loaded Gilas Men pool revealed]

SBP president Al Panlilio admitted on Friday that fatigue is a concern for the also-ran PBA players.

"The best talents are in the PBA and we'll continue working closely with them but, for this window, we also have to take into consideration what the PBA players went through. They were apart from their families for at least six weeks and had to go through a grueling schedule. We know some of them are willing to play for flag and country and we appreciate them reaching out to us but it's important that they give themselves time to recover physically and mentally," Panlilio said in a statement.

The top-tier cagefest pushed through with its 45th season amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the form of a bubble in Angeles that saw the teams playing once every two to three days early into the elimination round and later on playing on back-to-back days and even in the morning.

While the said PBA bubble factored in SBP's decision not to bring in some of the league's stars into the Gilas Men lineup, Panlilio also said that the governing body for basketball also wants to build the Gilas Cadets up for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, which the Philippines will co-host with Japan and Indonesia.

"The SBP has always wanted to start forming a core of younger players in preparation for 2023.... this event gives us a unique opportunity to test out a lot of young players to see how well they fit into the program," he continued.

Panlilio then expressed bullishness on the young guns chosen to represent the Philippines later this month.

"We appreciate the commitment of all of these young athletes in joining our training camp. They have a lot of work to do in a short period of time but we're confident they'll all be up to the task. I'm sure they're all excited to be on the court again after being away from basketball for so long," he further said.

The Gilas Men just began their training camp at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno_

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