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PBA players remain ideal option – Barrios

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For top officials of the Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas (SBP), the ideal roster for Gilas Pilipinas 5.0 is to have PBA players form the national team that will seek a spot in the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.

However, with the new home-and-away FIBA format that will be implemented starting next year in the qualifying meets, SBP executive director Sonny Barrios said it is easier said than done.

“That’s the ideal situation,” said Barrios in yesterday PSA Forum at Shakey’s in Malate, Manila. “Nag-uusap ang PBA and SBP to see how we can achieve that ideal setup of PBA (players) forming the national team.”

“But, hindi ganoon kadali with the home-and-away format where there will be four windows of competition every year to qualify for the World Cup. The reality is hindi naman pwede mag-stop ang PBA four times a year,” added Barrios, a former commissioner of the pro league.

With the exception of naturalized players in Marcus Douthit (2013) Andray Blatche (2014-2016), the national team’s core has PBA players.

Because of the new format, the SBP, under telecommunications tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan, is forming an all-amateur squad, known as the Gilas Cadet, which will train for the World Cup.

Reportedly being eyed are collegiate stalwarts Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Ferrer, Mac Belo, Michael Tolomia, Roger Pogoy and Jio Jalalon.

The project is apparently on hold after an initial discussion between PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa and SBP vice president Al Panlilio in the hopes of finding a win-win solution to the problem.

Butch Antonio, SBP deputy executive director for international affairs and the Gilas team manager since 2011, said that all possibilities are being looked into to form the best team possible for the qualifying tournaments.

“Rest assured that the target now is World Cup,” said Antonio also in the sports forum.