PBA gives all-out support to Gilas

Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star
PBA gives all-out support to Gilas
Chito Narvasa

MANILA, Philippines – PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa said the other day the pro league is committed to support the Gilas program 100 percent and if it means advancing the deadline to cede veteran players to the national team for training, he doesn’t expect the Board to oppose a plan to release those in the pool 15 days early.

Under the terms of the Memorandum of Agreement signed by the SBP and PBA, the Gilas rookies will be allowed to leave their PBA mother clubs 60 days before the start of an international tournament for training. The other PBA players in the Gilas pool will be released 15 days before the start of the competition.

There appears to be a move to request the PBA Board for the release of the non-Gilas rookie players 30 days before the start of a tournament instead of 15. Narvasa said he doesn’t foresee a problem in securing approval from the Board although a prior clearance must be obtained from a player’s PBA mother club.

The schedule for the next three international competitions where Gilas will play is April 23-30 for the SEABA Championships in Manila or Cebu, August 10-20 for the FIBA Asia Cup in Beirut and Aug. 19-31 for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur. If the Philippines wins the SEABA title and finishes in the top 14 in the FIBA Asia Cup, Gilas will advance to the first of six home-and-away series in November in the qualifying process for the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.

Gilas coach Chot Reyes has expanded the Gilas pool from 24 to 26, including late addition Troy Rosario of TNT and naturalized player Andray Blatche. It’s possible that Reyes may also tap Mo Tautuaa of TNT for the pool to serve as a naturalized player in case Blatche is unavailable because of commitments in the Chinese Basketball Association. While Tautuaa has Filipino blood, he is not eligible to play on the national team as a local under FIBA rules because his Philippine passport was issued after turning 16.  Another player with Filipino lineage, Jordan Clarkson of the Los Angeles Lakers, is similarly situated and will be allowed by FIBA to suit up for the Philippines only as a naturalized player. A national team may enlist only one naturalized player.

The Gilas pool is made up of Blatche, Jayson Castro, Rosario and Roger Pogoy of TNT, Calvin Abueva and Carl Bryan Cruz of Alaska, Paul Lee and Jio Jalalon of Star, Japeth Aguilar and Kevin Ferrer of Barangay Ginebra, Jonathan Grey and Ed Daquioag of Meralco, JuneMar Fajardo and Arnold Van Opstal of San Miguel Beer, Bradwyn Guinto and Fonzo Gotladera of NLEX, Raymond Almazan and Mike Tolomia of Rain Or Shine, Norbert Torres and Matthew Wright of Phoenix, Terrence Romeo and Von Pessumal of GlobalPort, Art de la Cruz and Mac Belo of Blackwater and L. A. Revilla and Russel Escoto of Mahindra.

Narvasa said the PBA will adjust the schedules of the teams with ceded players in the coming conferences to cover for the gaps in the lineups. “For the SEABA Championships, I expect the PBA will not hold games particularly during the semifinals and final,” he said. “We’ll try to schedule PBA games for teams with players on the national team around the tournament games to avoid conflict.  We might be able to delay some games so teams can get back their players after the SEABA event. It’s critical for the PBA to get the confirmed schedules from the SBP ahead of time so we can make the necessary adjustments.”

The PBA will end its season before the FIBA Asia Cup and SEA Games in August so there will be no conflict in schedules for both competitions. Since both tournaments are set within the same month, the SBP will split its resources in forming two separate national teams. When the home-and-away series kicks in, the PBA will again make adjustments in its schedule.

Narvasa clarified that the agreement with the SBP for each PBA team to cede a Gilas rookie and another player to the national pool is a minimum, not a maximum. “It’s up to the team if they agree to release more than two players to the pool, that’s their call,” he said. “The MOA stipulates one Gilas rookie and one other player at least for every team. If a team doesn’t mind to release three or more players, that’s its prerogative.” As it is, TNT is the only team with three players in the pool and it might be four if Tautuaa is called up. 

Narvasa said even the focus of attention in officiating has an eye on preparing for international competitions. He singled out traveling, lifting and the three-second offensive rule as the violations that the referees are unforgiving to call. FIBA is strict to whistle violations of the three rules so Narvasa said the PBA is as uncompromising.

“Let’s take lifting, for example,” said Narvasa. “Terrence, in particular, has a tendency to lift the ball when crossing over. It’s actually an illegal dribble. But he’s adjusting and learning. If we let it pass in the PBA and he does it as a habit in the FIBA, we’ll pay the price. I recall Terrence was recently called for lifting at least thrice in a PBA game but it didn’t slow him down and he still ended up scoring about 28 points.  Traveling is another violation. Some players like to shift their feet when getting the ball without dribbling. FIBA will call that and so will we in the PBA.”

SBP deputy executive director for international affairs Butch Antonio said the other day no date has been set by Gilas head coach Chot Reyes for the first day of practice. Since the SEABA Championships will begin on April 23, it is expected that the first practice will be called in the second or third week of February for the Gilas PBA rookies.


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