MANILA, Philippines -- Gilas Pilipinas has got an extra month of training period for the 2014 FIBA World Cup, and is now looking at NBA players Javale McGee and Andray Blatche to be put in a pool of naturalized players for use in its long-term program.
The PBA board of governors, in a meeting Thursday, granted national coach Chot Reyes’ request for the league to compress further more its schedule in the current season so as to give the Nationals added window time to prepare not only for the World Cup but also the succeeding Asian Games in Incheon, Korea.
In Congress, Deputy Speaker Robbie Puno filed two separate bills seeking the naturalization of McGee and Blatche.
“A resolution was arrived at. The board reiterated its full support to the Gilas program. They generously cut back the season schedule by one month,” said Reyes.
“The PBA team owners have agreed to compress the season. The second and third conferences finals were reduced from best-of-seven to best-of-five. We’re also compressing the in-between conferences breaks to meet Gilas’ request,” said PBA commissioner Chito Salud.
“Even the start of the 2014-15 season will be delayed to allow the team to compete in the Asian Games,” Salud added.
In doing all the schedule revisions, Gilas can now start training fully as a team as early as July 15 or a month and a half before the opening of the world meet in Spain from Aug. 30-Sept. 14. Under the old schedule, the Nationals would’ve had only two weeks of preparation for the Spain joust.
Salud said the PBA also approved the releasing of more players to the Gilas pool, if requested by the national coach.
But Reyes said he would discuss this to his coaching staff first.
“We’re always open to this. We’re keeping an open mind. But of course the old players would have the advantage,” Reyes pointed out.
Reyes said they would make the decision upon his return from Spain where he’s to attend the World Cup draw set Feb. 3.
The team has until June 30 to name a 24-man roster in the initial submission of lineup. The final 12 will come from this.
Before June 30, Gilas is hoping Congress grants McGee and Blatche their naturalization papers.
“Hopefully before that date so they can still be eligible for the World Cup,” said Reyes.
If ever, McGee and Blatche, former teammates with the Washington Wizards, join Marcus Douthit in the Gilas’ pool.
“We’re in discussion with Javale. However, he’s just found out that he needs to undergo a procedure for his shin injury. With that development, it’s prudent also to choose a backup. Blatche agreed to undergo the naturalization process. He wants to play for the Philippines,” said Reyes.
In his bills, Puno said “naturalizing McGee and Blatche will strengthen the Philippines’ chances in reclaiming its dream as one of the world’s basketball greats during the FIBA World Cup.”
The Antipolo solon was also behind the effort in 2011 to naturalize Douthit.
“We need to naturalize at least two players who will play at the same time for the Philippine team. This will avoid jeopardizing the entire basketball program in the event of an injury to any of our naturalized players,” said Puno.