“Our national team is zeroing in on a World Cup passage, and the PBA is not turning its back on them, not now at crunch time of the qualifiers,” PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said.
New Gilas readied for FIBA qualifiers
Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - October 23, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Basketball Association is taking another break before the Governors Cup finale to make the league’s best and brightest available for Team Phl that plays back-to-back home games in the FIBA World Cup qualifiers at the MOA Arena on Nov. 30 and Dec. 3.

Meanwhile, the Rain or Shine management has prevailed upon Raymond Almazan to stay with the ball club for the duration of his contract that expires in October next year. Almazan has been allowed to take a leave for the rest of the season. He’s to report back at the start of the ROS training for next season.

“The PBA has promised full support, and we’re making good on our promise. Even players who will play in the finals we’ll be made available if they’re included in coach Yeng Guiao’s pool,” said PBA commissioner Willie Marcial.

“Our national team is zeroing in on a World Cup passage, and the PBA is not turning its back on them, not now at crunch time of the qualifiers,” Marcial added.

The PBA stops play from Nov. 17 to Dec. 4, with Game One of the Governors Cup finale likely to be played Dec. 5.

“If the semifinals end early, we may play Games One and Two before the break. But if both semis series go the full distance, the finals start after the break,” said Marcial.

Alaska Milk (7-2), Barangay Ginebra (7-2), Magnolia (7-2), Blackwater (6-3) and Phoenix Petroleum (6-3) are five teams that have booked spots in the Governors Cup playoffs. Slugging it out for the three remaining playoff berths are San Miguel Beer (4-4), TNT KaTropa (4-5), NLEX (4-5), Meralco (4-6) and Rain or Shine (2-6).

With a wider pool that will include returning Gilas players Andray Blatche, Jason Castro, Terrence Romeo and Troy Rosario, Guiao plans to start training by the first week of November.

Training goes full blast during the PBA break.

Players that saw action against Iran and Qatar in the last FIBA window plus Blatche, Castro, Romeo, Rosario, Greg Slaughter and June Mar Fajardo are among those being  considered to play for Team Phl against Kazakhstan on Nov. 30 and Iran on Dec. 3.

Joining the pool as a developmental player is 16-year-old 7-1 giant Kai Sotto.

The Nationals will try to jack up their current 5-3 win-loss slate at third place in Group F before the final window in February where they play back-to-back “away” games versus Qatar and Kazakhstan.

Team Phl must finish in the Top Three in its group to make the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.

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