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No PBA players for Gilas in ACQ, OQT

No Jayson Castro and Japeth Aguilar among other PBA stars in Gilas for now says PBA board governors Ricky Vargas and Al Panlilio. Rick Dela Cruz (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Do not expect PBA stars to bolster Gilas Pilipinas Men's 5-on-5 team this June.

PBA board chairman Ricky Vargas said on Tuesday that the league will not be able to lend some veterans to the national team for the meantime as the tournaments that they will be participating in, the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers and the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, will coincide with the PBA Philippine Cup.

"They would complete an all-Gilas [Cadets] team, and the PBA will not be asked to contribute any players other than those we have contributed already during the draft this year and in the previous draft," Vargas said.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio, also a member of the PBA board, added that bringing in pros to Gilas could disrupt the PBA schedule.

"If you take a look at it, if we really want to start training even as early as this month and the PBA would start its season in April, and this will go all the way to July 4, which is the last day of the OQT, it could completely descale the calendar of the PBA," he said.

Panlilio then said that having a non-PBA Gilas team could be the norm at the moment.

"We're trying to put up a plan--and that's being thought of now--of an entirely non-PBA team using the five that we already drafted last [season] and the four that we would draft this year--so that's nine--and if you put the name of Ange Kouame there, potentially also Kai Sotto, and some of the college players which we're working on with the schools so that we would get clearances from them, I think we can come up with a 20 if not a list of 25 names that can enter the bubble as early as the end of the month to start the training," he further said.

Kouame took another step toward becoming a Filipino as the Senate approved in the second reading the bill granting him naturalization.

Once the Senate ratifies the bill filed by SBP chairman Sonny Angara, the bill will be sent to President Rodrigo Duterte for his final approval.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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