MANILA, Philippines – The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) wants to field the best-ever Smart Gilas-Pilipinas squad to the 27th FIBA Asia Championship, which takes place in Manila this August.
SBP Executive Director Renauld “Sonny” Barrios said they want to assemble the “best of the best” who will compete against other teams from Asia.
Barrios said this will not only be for the sake of winning the tournament, but also for Filipino basketball fans.
“Ang pananaw ng bayan is we're playing before our own countrymen for the first time after 40 years, it's only fitting we field the best of the best before our own countrymen,” the former PBA chieftain said on ANC's "Hardball".
The last time the country hosted such a big basketball event was when Manila hosted the 1973 edition of the FIBA Asia Championship, which is why Barrios said Pinoy basketball fans deserve a treat.
“Itong hosting atin ito, sarili nating territoryo, sa harap ng ating mga kababayan na supposedly basketball crazy. We're selling them short if we don't field the best of the best,” he said.
The SBP hopes that the team will also be given enough time to prepare for the tournament, which serves as a qualifier for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup that will take place in Spain.
Barrios said even the best players won’t win without sufficient training.
“How will the best of the best prepare? Kasi kung best of the best nga pero dalawang linggo lang naman silang mag-eensayo, wala rin,” he said.
Among the things to be considered, he said, is the availability and the fitness of the players.
“Hindi pwedeng final lineup agad kasi baka may mga may injury,” said Barrios. “[So sana] sooner than later, malalaman kung sinong available para ma-map out ng coach ‘yung training program.”
Gilas coach Chot Reyes is currently assessing the current lineup which is competing at the 2013 Dubai International Invitational.
The Gilas members playing in Dubai include Meralco’s JayR Reyes and Ronjay Buenafe, Air21’s KG Canaleta, 6’9” Fil-Am player Isaac Holstein, cadet players Justin Melton, Matt Ganuelas, Garvo Lanete, Greg Slaughter, RR Garcia, Kevin Alas, Ronald Pascual, Jake Pascual, and naturalized Filipino Marcus Douthit.