|SBP chief Al Panlilio expressed openness to having Gilas Men in the PBA Philippine Cup. FIBA (file photo)|
MANILA--Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio confirmed on Tuesday night that the PBA has offered the national sports association to have its national team play in the upcoming Philippine Cup.
“The SBP is thankful to PBA commissioner Willie Marcial and the board of governors for extending an invitation to Gilas Pilipinas to join their competitions this season,” Panlilio said.
He then bared, “We’re definitely open to the idea of playing in the PBA.”
The PBA board agreed in its meeting on Monday to have Gilas Men play in the season opening conference, which will start on April 9.
[Related Story: Gilas Men joining PBA Season 46]
“The PBA has been a valuable partner to the SBP and this invitation only reasserts the league’s commitment to helping our Gilas Pilipinas program in whatever way they can,” added Panlilio who represents Meralco in the PBA board. “Aside from lending players, assistant coaches, and even head coaches for the national team’s cause, the SBP appreciates the PBA’s willingness to adjust their competition to accommodate our team.”
Marcial said on Monday night that while Gilas Men, should they accept the invite, will play as a guest team, they are actually qualified to win the coveted championship.
This was the case when the first Gilas Men team joined the 2011 Commissioner's Cup.
The original Gilas squad, which came in to replace the Red Bull franchise that took a leave of absence then, made it to the semifinals of the conference.
However, Gilas Men lost in four games to Ginebra, led by eventual Best Import Nate Brumfield.
Panlilio believes that having the national team join a certain PBA conference would benefit the squad in terms of chemistry.
“We know the value of being able to play games against PBA teams on a regular basis as evidenced by the exploits of Smart-Gilas 1 back in 2011,” explained Panlilio. “Training is important for any team but you learn a lot about your teammates when you go up against strong opposition.”
Right now, Gilas Men's focus is on the final window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in Doha.
“Right now, the focus of Gilas Pilipinas program director Tab Baldwin, together with his coaching staff, is preparing our team for the upcoming games against South Korea and Indonesia,” said Panlilio.
He then said that the SBP will just entertain the thought of joining the Philippine Cup right after Gilas Men are done with the ACQ.
“Once the team arrives from Doha, we will sit down with the PBA to discuss this matter further,” Panlilio concluded.
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