MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Basketball Association will pay tribute to Smart Gilas Pilipinas during the opening ceremonies of its 38th season on Sunday, saluting coach Chot Reyes, his staff and the Nationals for their Jones Cup victory and semifinal finish in the FIBA Asia Cup.
Coming with the citation is commissioner Chito Salud’s promise of the league's continuous support, hoping the national team to be in best shape possible in time for the world qualifier next year.
Seeing up close in the fourth FIBA Asia Cup how tough the regional competition is, Salud vowed to do what he can to help make the national team be more competitive, including personally talking to the players Reyes wants to add to his roster.
Salud stressed the teams are committed to make their players available for the national team.
"I'll talk to coach Chot Reyes and ask him the players he wants added to the pool. I will help talk to the players," said Salud.
Reyes has mentioned several times the names of Marc Pingris and Arwind Santos, players who can shore up the team's forward spots.
Pingris and Santos along with James Yap and Alex Cabagnot had been named in the original pool, but these players didn't sign a commitment letter to be part of it.
After the FIBA Asia Cup, Reyes added in his wish list young behemoths Greg Slaughter and Junmar Fajardo.
Reyes will have no problem on Slaughter who has committed to join the Gilas cadet pool.
On Fajardo, a SMC official said the PBA top draftee can be made available to Gilas so long as requests are sent to SMC management.
At the FIBA Asia Cup where Gilas settled for third runner-up honors, glaring was the absence of an able backup to Marcus Douthit.
The Nationals return to their mother ball clubs as the PBA opens shop Sunday.
Relieved of his duty at Talk n Text, the national coach undergoes coaching clinic in the US then starts training the cadet pool at the end of the collegiate season.
Among those eyed for the cadet pool are Slaughter, Nico Salva and Kiefer Ravena of Ateneo, Ian Sangalang and Ronald Pascual of San Sebastian, Kevin Alas of Letran and RR Garcia of FEU.
Reyes also plans on pitching a Fil-Am tryout camp in the US in search of Fil-Ams who are good and eligible to be part of the Gilas program.
One requirement in line with the FIBA rule is that the player has acquired a Philippine passport before turning 16.