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Gilas considers playing in PBA

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
Gilas considers playing in PBA
The first qualifying window will pit the Philippines against South Korea on Nov. 25 and 28. Gilas will face India on Feb. 25 and New Zealand on Feb. 28 in the second window. The PBA second conference will likely start late next month so if Gilas joins, it may play several games before the qualifiers. The PBA could adjust its schedule to accommodate Gilas’ break.
FIBA / SBP

MANILA, Philippines — SBP president Al Panlilio said yesterday it’s “always a serious consideration” for Gilas to play as a contending team in the PBA and with the national team booked to compete in the FIBA Asia/Pacific World Cup qualifiers, it may be a way to gain actual game exposure in preparing for the coming windows.

The first qualifying window will pit the Philippines against South Korea on Nov. 25 and 28. Gilas will face India on Feb. 25 and New Zealand on Feb. 28 in the second window. The PBA second conference will likely start late next month so if Gilas joins, it may play several games before the qualifiers. The PBA could adjust its schedule to accommodate Gilas’ break.

Another vehicle to prepare Gilas may be to arrange a pocket tournament in Manila but that would involve seeking approval from IATF for foreign teams to enter the country. Quarantine restrictions will make it difficult. Even the qualifiers pose a challenge because of the home-and-away format. It’s possible the games will be held in just one country to limit travel.

Gilas coach Tab Baldwin said he’s not closing the door on the PBA option but “I’ll have to look at the entire schedule before I can consider the PBA.” He added, “We’re trying to get into the bubble now but just dealing with IATF restrictions so soon, I hope.”

With Gilas players moving to the Japan league, SBP special assistant to the president Ryan Gregorio said they may still be available for the qualifiers. “Some of the players who will be playing in Japan signed a deal with a FIBA clause which allows them to leave and play for Gilas,” he said. “I was told about two weeks before each window. However, we have yet to test the spirit and the application of the clause. We will know before the November window.” Gregorio said the plan is to utilize the core of the players in the last FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in the Clark bubble. “We may add a few more players,” he said. “In the event that some players will not be available, I’m sure coach Tab will get the best talent available.”

PBA chairman Ricky Vargas said the decision is up to Gilas whether to join or not. “The board talked about it, discussed with SBP and welcomes Gilas,” said Vargas. “It’s really up to Gilas to build it in their schedule and plans. Being a guest team has always been open for Gilas.”

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said if Gilas joins, it may be a contending team, meaning it could vie for the championship. Gilas’ participation will make the second conference different from the first. Traditionally, the second conference features imports but with the restrictions in this pandemic, foreign players are doubtful to play.

GILAS PILIPINAS PBA
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