MANILA, Philippines – The core of the TNT KaTropa franchise, Gilas Pilipinas cadets, and naturalized Filipino center Andray Blatche will make up the men's basketball team that the Philippines will send to the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia this August.
This was the solution that the board of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) came up with Thursday, after carefully weighing several options at hand.
PBA chairman Ricky Vargas noted that the Asian Games presented a huge challenge to the league. The multi-sport event is scheduled for August 18 to September 2, right smack in the middle of the PBA Governors' Cup.
Moreover, the second round of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers will start on September 13, just over a week after the Asian Games.
But the PBA stressed that it is in full support of Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas in its drive to send the best Gilas Pilipinas team to the next qualifying window.
"Everybody in the board wants to participate in the Asian Games," assured Vargas. "But they also want to be competitive."
The PBA Board discussed many possibilities, including sending an all-Cadet team together with Blatche. "We said maybe that's not competitive enough, even with Andray Blatche," Vargas said.
It was also possible to send a PBA selection, but that would involve stopping the PBA for a month and a half – something that the board simply cannot afford.
"What the board talked about was, why don't we send the core group of one team? So we will just deal with the playing schedule of one team," Vargas said. "They decided that the most competitive team, very competitive among all the selections, was to give the core team of TNT."
Thus, the core of the KaTropa – Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo, Roger Pogoy, and Troy Rosario among others – will be sent to represent the Philippines in the Asian Games. They will be joined by at least one player from Alaska – likely Carl Bryan Cruz – along with four or five cadets. Blatche will also be included in the line-up.
"When we saw the composition, we said that this is probably a competitive team," said Vargas.
TNT coach Nash Racela is expected to join the coaching staff of Chot Reyes for the Asian Games, according to Vargas.
"Chot is excited about this process," Vargas said.
There are still some issues to be ironed out. The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) has to submit the names of some other TNT players to the Asian Games organizers, and the final line-up itself won't be revealed until the second week of June.
This won't be the first time that the core of a PBA franchise will represent the Philippines.
The same thing happened in the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima, Japan when the San Miguel Beermen won the Philippine Cup and thus the right to play in the Asiad. They were helped in their cause by players from Purefoods – including Alvin Patrimonio – as well as Alaska's Johnny Abarrientos and amateur standouts like Kenneth Duremdes and Marlou Aquino.
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