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Former national team coach Tim Cone still believes that if the local basketball association is serious in competing for future spot in the FIBA World Cup and in the Olympics, officials should continue sending the best players – and those best players come from the PBA.
Cone’s comments came after the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, through its president Manny V. Pangilinan, finally bared plans to select 14 amateur players for the Gilas Cadet aimed to compete in various international tournaments starting next year.
“I’m a very small voice in the wind but I just feel internationally, you can’t succeed without your best player and your cadets will never be your best player,” said Cone, who called the shots for the all-pro, bronze medal winning Philippine Centennial squad during the 1998 Asian Games in Thailand.
“The best players are your PBA players,” added Cone, a two-time Grand Slam champion coach in the pro league.
“There are some benefits to it but I still think if you want to compete in a championship level (World Cup), in an Olympic level, you got to have your best players (PBA),” he said.
There is no official roster yet as to who would be included to the Gilas Cadet program, which will be handled by current Gilas mentor Tab Baldwin, aimed for the 2017 to 2019 FIBA tournaments.
However, some of the names that are being considered – according to sources – include Keifer Ravena, Mac Belo, Mike Tolomia, Roger Pogoy, Russel Escoto, Von Pessumal, Gio Jalalon, Kevin Ferrer and Fil-Am Ray Parks Jr.
Ravena and Parks, former two-time UAAP MVPs, are in the national team training pool of Baldwin vying for Gilas 12-man spots in the July 5 to 10 Manila-leg Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) to be staged at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.
SBP believes the PBA may soon find it more difficult to lend their players to the national team in future competitions now that FIBA is about to adopt football’s World Cup scheduling format which will most likely be in conflict with the PBA’s own schedule.
Another fear of Cone would be the unavailability of quality players in the coming PBA Rookie Draft should the planned Cadet pool pushes through.
“We don’t even know who’s coming anymore now that the Gilas is supposedly – I don’t know if it’s 100% or near 100% – going to take guys. I assume there’l be some Fil-Ams coming from the ABL, maybe they’ll get a shot,” said Cone.
“I’m sure it’s a relief for the league office that they won’t worry about (forming national team) anymore, and if we got screwing up the schedule all the time, it’s going to be easier for the coaches and everybody else, there’s a good and bad to it.”
And in sounding positive about the Cadet program, Cone believes the plan would also benefit the PBA but in the long run.
“It’s the program for the country, hopefully it’ll benefit the country and we’re all willing to sacrifice for that,” said Cone.
“Those cadets get involved internationally, they developed in a hurry, and by the time they come in, they’re going to be well prepared, like the Jojo, Alvin and Jerry way back then, they came in mature and superstars right off the bat.”
Cone was referring to Jojo Lastimosa, Alvin Patrimonio and Jerry Codinera who all had extensive stints with the national team before joining the PBA.