PBA reiterates support for Gilas as FIBA World Cup nears

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 30 2022 07:38 PM

The PBA Board, including Commissioner Willie Marcial, is committed to supporting the national team program. PBA Images.
The PBA Board, including Commissioner Willie Marcial, is committed to supporting the national team program. PBA Images.

MANILA, Philippines -- The PBA will pull out all stops to help Gilas Pilipinas in its preparation for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, with one team executive expressing their willingness to lend even their coaches and utility staff.

The Philippines will co-host the World Cup next year with Indonesia and Japan, and expectations are high for Gilas Pilipinas despite the team's recent disappointing campaign in the 31st Southeast Asian Games.

"Andoon pa rin ang commitment ng PBA to help Gilas," PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said Monday, during the league's press conference at Conrad Hotel ahead of its 47th season.

"Katulad ng sinasabi namin, in behalf of the board and sa mga team owners, kung anong kailangan ng Gilas, ibibigay pa rin ng PBA," he said.

This includes possibly changing their schedule next year to accommodate the team's training camp. Gilas coach Chot Reyes has already said he hopes to have three months' worth of dedicated training for the national team.

"Pag-uusapan pa din namin, pero kailangan, bigyan talaga ng magandang preparasyon for the 2023. Pag-uusapan ulit ng board 'yan, pero andoon na. Doon na direksyon ng board. Mga two to three months ang preparasyon, so tingnan natin. Andoon na ang direksyon na nga," Marcial said.

Meanwhile, teams will have no issues in lending any of their players to the national team cause, stressed Barangay Ginebra team governor Alfrancis Chua. 

PBA players are not expected to suit up for FIBA tournaments in July, as the league's All-Filipino Cup will be ongoing by then. But there should be no worries if they are called up to Gilas for next year's event.

"They keep on asking about players, if we're gonna lend players," Chua said. "Since a couple of years ago, nag-agree kami lahat. Kahit ball boy, pwede nila kunin. Walang problema. Sila mamimili. Kami, all the teams, from Team 1 to Team 12, kung sinong gusto nila doon."

"Walang hahadlang," he stressed. "Kahit sino gusto nilang hiramin. Kahit coach namin, hiramin nila, pwede."

Chua said that their only request is that the league -- particularly Marcial -- be informed of the schedule ahead of time. This appears to be no issue as Marcial made it clear that he is in communication with Reyes regarding the team's plans for next year.

"'Pag sinasabi, 'di nagpahiram, ganito, wala pong katotohanan 'yun, matagal na naming pinag-agree-han 'yan," said Chua.

PBA chairman Ricky Vargas also said the league will be "flexible" in offering help to the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), as they too are invested in ensuring that Gilas will be successful in their campaign.

The Philippines finished last among 32 teams in the 2019 edition of the event in China.

"The World Cup 2023 will be on our shores in 15 months, 16 months," Vargas said. "That is also very important to us, not only because we're PBA, but [because] we love basketball, and basketball is the pride of each and everyone of us in this room, and many others in the country."

"That's our pride. So we'd like to be able to offer our help once again, and be a little bit more flexible in terms of doing that. Kasi minsan lang tayo magkaroon ng World Cup dito," he added.

The FIBA World Cup 2023 runs from August 25 to September 10, with the final phase of the tournament to be held in Manila.