Gilas Pilipinas is now setting its sights on the 2019 FIBA World Cup, according to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) vice-president Al Panlilio.
“We’re really looking forward to the next World Cup, there’s a calendar that we’ll follow there,” said Panlilio, who is being being groomed to succeed telecommunications mogul Manny V. Pangilinan as SBP president.
Under the new “home and away” format, seven slots will be up for grabs for the Asia and Oceania Zone, according to Panlilio.
As a result, the Philippines, together with other powerhouse squads from Asia like Iran, Japan, South Korea and Jordan, will play alongside reigning Oceania champion Australia and New Zealand.
As host, China will no longer need to go through qualifying, further boosting the country’s bid to qualify in the World Cup.
“I think we have a big chance to get there because from Asia (and Oceania), which now includes Australia and New Zealand. There will be seven slots, China is already there effectively,” said Panlilio.
“If you take away Australia and New Zealand (favorites to win slots), there will be five spots for Asia (and Oceania).”
“Hopefully… siguro yung Philippines naman will be one of the five. We’ll just continue to develop be better and improve,” added Panlilio, who is the CEO of the local organizing committee (LOC) of the Manila leg of this OQT.
In the past, only three slots were available for the Asian zone.
Gilas saw action in the last World Cup after placing among the top three in the FIBA Asia championship.
However, the participation of PBA players to future Gilas teams is in jeopardy because of the new FIBA format which runs in conflict with the PBA season.
Panlilio already had an initial discussion with PBA Commissioner Chito Narvasa with regards to the formation of Gilas Pilipinas since the SBP is set to revive its cadet program this year for the World Cup.