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Gilas deadline for pool slated

MANILA, Philippines — SBP deputy executive director for international affairs Butch Antonio said the other day the Philippines has until Nov. 5 to submit its 24-man pool to FIBA for the first window of home-and-away games in the Asia/Pacific qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Gilas head coach Chot Reyes will summon invitees to the first practice on Nov. 3 in preparation for the series opener against Japan in Tokyo on Nov. 24.

Antonio said the 24-man pool will be good for the Nov. 24 game against Japan and the Nov. 27 game against Chinese-Taipei in Manila. Gilas may name different 12-man rosters for both games but the players can only come from the 24-man pool. For the next qualifying windows, another 24-man pool will be submitted to FIBA. 

The second qualifying window pits the Philippines against Australia on Feb. 22 and Japan in Manila on Feb. 25. The third qualifying window will match Gilas against Chinese-Taipei on June 29 and Australia in Manila on July 2. When Gilas hosts Australia, the NBA season will be over and the Milwaukee Bucks’ Matthew Dellavedova is expected to reinforce the Boomers. Other Australians in the NBA include Boston’s Aron Baynes, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Andrew Bogut, San Antonio’s Patty Mills, Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons and Utah’s Dante Exum and Joe Ingles.

“Players can change in every game but they’ve got to come from the 24-man pool for each qualifying window,” explained Antonio. “From what we know, the guiding principle is still at least one cadet and one veteran from each PBA team in naming players to the pool. In cases where a team may be tapped for more than two veterans, we will request clearance. For instance, we spoke with Mr. Raymond Yu of Rain Or Shine to request for Gabe Norwood and Raymond Almazan for the last FIBA Asia Cup.”

Reyes said yesterday he will confer with PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa on the guidelines for recruitment. If there will no longer be a distinction between cadets and veterans in future call-ups, any two players from a team may be drafted for Gilas. Reyes said at the moment, the only new guideline is all invited players, whether cadets or veterans, will report for the first Gilas practice on Nov. 3.

Antonio said Reyes will do his best for the country with the players he’s allowed to recruit. “We all know coach Chot,” he said. “He plays the hand that’s given to him. No complaints, no excuses. He’s doing this for love of country. The new FIBA qualifying system for the World Cup is a challenge. Practice time is limited and the preparation period between games in a qualifying window is a matter of only a few days.”

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The PBA has set the opening of the new season to Dec. 17 to free up the schedule for Gilas to prepare for the Nov. 24 and 27 games. But there will be conflicts when the second and third windows get underway. The Philippine Cup is slated to end April 11 at the latest. The Commissioner’s Cup will begin on April 21 and finish on Aug. 3 at the latest while the Governors Cup will open on Aug. 12 and wind up on Nov. 18 at the latest.

The Philippines is in Group B with Japan, Chinese-Taipei and Australia in the first round of qualifying. The other contenders are China, New Zealand, South Korea and Hong Kong in Group A, Syria, Lebanon, India and Jordan in Group C and Iran, Iraq, Qatar and Kazakhstan in Group D. After the first round, the top three placers in each group advance to the second round which is another series of three qualifying windows. The 12 survivors will be split into two brackets where the top three finishers book tickets to the World Cup. A seventh slot will be awarded to the fourth placer of either bracket with the higher point quotient. That will complete a cast of seven qualifiers from Asia/Pacific to the World Cup.

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