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SBP, PBA discuss Cadet program

The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) will sit down with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) this week most likely to clarify the parameters of SBP’s plans to revive the long-shelved Gilas cadets program.

“Mag-uusap kami ng SBP pag balik namin diyan,” PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa emailed in response to a question yesterday.

Narvasa, on his first season as the league’s ninth commissioner, is in Tokyo with members of the PBA board of governors, led by chairman Robert Non of San Miguel Beer, on a scheduled out-of-town trip and is expected to return Saturday night.

The meeting could take place as early as Monday or Tuesday before SBP’s weekly ManCom meeting at its Philsports headquarters in Pasig.

Most likely to represent SBP are executive director Sonny Barrios and deputy executive directors Bernie Atienza (national affairs) and Butch Antonio (international affairs). SBP vice president Al Panlilio could also be present.

Based on concerns expressed by a number of PBA governors on the likelihood of a shallow Rookie Draft in October should top amateurs like Kiefer Ravena, Mac Belo and Kevin Ferrer agree to hold off on turning pro to become part of the Gilas cadets pool, the talks could center on how long the deferment would be and what role the PBA would play in the future in the modified FIBA setup.

With the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) revising its calendar starting next year by setting up six different “windows” or qualifiers from which to choose countries for the World Cup and the Olympics, the SBP will most certainly encounter problems in putting up a competitive team made up of pros since the FIBA’s home-and-away schedule would run in conflict with the PBA calendar.

The Gilas cadets program, launched by former national coach Rajko Toroman five years ago, is the preset answer to the dilemma, with SBP, under its president Manny V. Pangilinan, putting together, funding and training a pool of young talent, patterned loosely after the Northern Consolidated program in the ‘80s, for immediate activation to international competition.

“We have at least 14 names for the Gilas cadets,” Pangilinan told InterAksyon.com recently. “We’ve spoken to all of them. All of them have consented. So we’re finalizing the documentation for them.”

Gilas Pilipinas is seeking to return to the global stage via the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China after getting a taste of world class competition in Seville, Spain two years ago.

If implemented as envisioned, the Gilas Pilipinas Cadets will roll off the assembly plant in next year’s FIBA Asia Championship, the last such tournament to be held before it is merged with FIBA Oceania to include Australia and New Zealand starting in 2021 as part of FIBA’s reformatted calendar.