By REYNALD MAGALLON
The PBA is extending its help to Gilas Pilipinas even after the FIBA 2023 World Cup.
The Board of Governors has already approved an October opening for the league’s 48th Season to allow national team head coach Chot Reyes to continue to utilize PBA players for the 19th Asian Games set in Hangzhou, China.
Commissioner Willie Marcial confirmed the development after the board convened in a meeting last Tuesday, Feb. 7.
“Nag-meeting kami ni coach Chot, tinanong ko ‘kung sino yung mga gagamitin mo, Asian Games gagamit ka ba ng PBA?’, sabi niya oo kaya ayun sinabi ko sa board, pinag usapan namin, pumayag naman,” said Marcial who also revealed that the league initially eyed a September return but had to be pushed back to give way for the Asian Games.
The continental showpiece will happen on Sept. 23 to Oct. 8 just two weeks after the conclusion of the World Cup which the country will be co-hosting with Japan and Indonesia from Aug. 24 to Sept. 10.
It is the latest effort done by the league to support the national team program after it already compressed its schedule in the 2023 Governors’ Cup to give Gilas ample time to prepare for the 32nd Southeast Asian Games.
The PBA also earlier announced that it is shortening the next season to just two conferences to also give way to the national team’s buildup for the World Cup.
With the development, the PBA Season 48 Rookie Draft will be set in September.
To make up for the six-month absence of PBA games, Marcial added that the league has also planned to have the pre-season games which will run from May to June to be held in various venues outside Metro Manila.
The PBA D-League is also set for a return in April while other programs such as the Batang PBA and a pre-season tournament with World Cup-bound teams in July are also in store.