No PBA players for Gilas Pilipinas lineup as they prepare for the upcoming FIBA Olympic and Asia Cup Qualifiers which are all scheduled a few months from now.
That’s what Samahan ng Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio as the schedule of the FIBA Olympic Qualifier is in conflict with the upcoming 46th PBA season calendar if the league open its 2021 Philippine Cup this April.
“If you take a look at it if we want to start training even as early as this month and the PBA will start its conference this season in April and this will go all the way to July 4 which is the last day of the OQT, it will completely descale the calendar of the PBA,” said Panlilio during a press conference.
Team Gilas will now rely on its young yet talented basketball players in the hopes of bringing a championship trophy to the Philippines. To boost their roster, SBP is eyeing to add Kai Sotto and Ange Kouame to the group which will be coached by Tab Baldwin.
Sotto went all-out on his basketball training after he graduated from high school in Ateneo and as a member of Ateneo Blue Eaglets. Sotto went overseas to sharpen his skills and currently aiming as the first pure Filipino player to be drafted and play in the NBA.
Kouame on the other hand just got the approval for his Philippine Citizenship from the House of Representatives. Though he’s not that high-scorer type of a player but his defense and rebounding plus the familiarity with Baldwin’s basketball system are his upsides.
Gilas will also utilize its players who came from the most recent PBA Special Draft along with some of the upcoming players from the collegiate rank.
“I think we have time to put up a plan of an entirely non-PBA team using the five that we already drafted last year and the four this year. That’s nine. And if you put the name of Ange Koaume there, potentially also Kai Sotto and some of the college players which we will be working on with the schools, I think we can come up with 20 if not 25 names that can enter the bubble as early as the end of the month to start the training,” said Panlilio.
Gilas lands in the same bracket as Serbia and the Dominican Republic. The Serbian squad can feature NBA players like Nikola Jokic, Boban Marjanovic, and Bogdan Bogdanovic while for the Dominican Republic they can add Al Horford and former NBA top-overall pick Karl Anthony Towns in order for them to return one of FIBA’s grandest tournament.
For Asia Qualifiers, team Philippines is currently the leading squad in Group A. They have two more games left and will all be played here in Clark and only the schedule is yet to be finalized. Gilas need to win two more to boost their chances to qualify for the tournament proper.