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SBP 'to plot our plans' with PBA in sending Gilas OQT crew

Expect a core made up of PBA stars for Gilas Men's OQT team. Rick Dela Cruz (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas might deploy an all-pro lineup for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade during the mid-year.

SBP president Al Panlilio said on Friday night that they will seek help from the PBA to build the Gilas Pilipinas Men roster for the OQT.

"Whenever we compete in international tournaments, we always aim to send the best team possible to make our Filipino fans proud. We will be coordinating with the PBA to plot our plans moving forward," Panlilio said.

Gilas Men got some sort of a wildcard entry to the OQT after New Zealand backed out of the tournament due to logistical concerns.

[Related Story: PH to join 5x5 OQT as NZ backs out]

"This is truly a welcome development and we're very happy that Gilas Pilipinas Men will be given a chance to compete for a spot in the Olympics," Panlilio continued, adding that SBP chairman emeritus Manny Pangilinan "was very pleased with the news" upon learning it from FIBA secretary general Andreas Zagklis.

Gilas Men are set to face host nation Serbia, featuring Nikola Jokic and Boban Marjanovic, and Dominican Republic, led by Karl-Anthony Towns and Al Horford, in the preliminary stage of the OQT.

With Gilas Men having to deal with four of the NBA's top big men right now, Panlilio hopes that naturalization candidate Ange Kouame would get his Filipino citizenship in time for some needed ceiling.

"We're hopeful that Ange Kouame's naturalization will be signed into law by then to give Gilas Pilipinas Men that added boost it needs to be more competitive," Panlilio concluded.

Kouame's naturalization bid is now rolling in the Senate after the bill authored by Senator Sonny Angara, also the SBP's chairman, passed the justice committee level and is now in the plenary level.

It is also possible that the SBP might give seven-foot-three wunderkind Kai Sotto a Gilas Men call-up for the OQT.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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