Realistically, Gilas Pilipinas will be competing in the World Cup not to win the world championship and Tim Cone knew it the moment he was asked to help out the national men’s basketball team coaching staff.
But he knows that the Philippines is putting “its best foot forward” when the country assembles and prepares its team for the World Cup.
Bringing in some of the finest coaches on board such as Nenad Vucinic, Jong Uichico, UAAP champion coach Goldwyn Monteverde and just recently, Cone, signaled the national team’s interest of a serious build up, beginning with its coaching staff, leading to the World Cup next year.
But how about the players forming the national team?
Basketball experts and even fans in general could say that it’s best to name a pool of players this early and start preparing for the World Cup, but Reyes believes doing such is unrealistic.
“The pool is a live thing. It’s a work in progress. I know some people are saying, ‘Mag-name na kayo ng 18’. I dare anyone in the world to tell me a country that already has a pool for the World Cup. I dare you, maski sino sa inyo, to tell me that there’s a country that already has players for the 2023 World Cup. Walang ganu’n. That’s impossible. It’s impossible to have even 18 or 20 players? Impossible,” Reyes said.
“We have players in mind, definitely, but to actually come out and say, ‘O, eto na ’yung pool natin’, masyadong mahirap.
“There’s so many things that can happen. Injuries can happen and then if you name a pool, that’s going to exclude some guys na puwede pang magpakita, for example, (NCAA Rookie/MVP) Rhenz Abando. I said let’s include Rhenz and let’s include Kevin Quiambao, because I know they are very good players, but I don’t have idea at how well they will perform internationally and now we’ll see in Korea that they play very well. So, that’s why we don’t want to name a pool because we don’t want to exclude anyone.
“Everyone who has a chance to make it, why are we going to restrict ourselves? Hindi naman kailangan. Let’s keep it open. The PBA has given it’s all-out support, so let’s take advantage of it.”
Reyes bared that Gilas Pilipinas will have a non-stop, three-month buildup ahead of the competition and they were assured by the PBA that they’re going to let go of the players the team chooses for the World Cup.
That’s included in the meeting of minds between the bosses of the MVP Group of Companies headed by Manuel V. Pangilinan, the chief benefactor of Gilas Pilipinas, and San Miguel Corp. led by its president Ramon S. Ang.
“I don’t know the details (of the meeting), but from what I heard, it’s a full cooperation of the entire San Miguel Group and the entire PBA as well. Kaya nga, ayaw na nating abalahin ’yung PBA now kasi nag-promise na ’yung PBA, para matapos na ng PBA ’yung three conferences, as early as three months before the World Cup, doon tayo mag-focus ng full, todo na preparation,” said Reyes.
“That’s already been the agreement with Commissioner Willie (Marcial). They repeated that to me. Regardless of how many players kasi wala namang PBA noon. So three months, walang maabalang team, walang maiistorbo. That’s what we’re looking at. All our preparations, naka-gear doon, nakatimpla for that situation.”
The meeting of the minds between the two bigwigs came at the heels of the Philippines’ disappointing finish in the SEA Games where the men’s basketball team failed to defend the title it won since 1991 and kept until the 2019 edition in Manila.
But San Miguel sports director Alfrancis Chua clarified that the meeting has nothing to do with rumors of a supposed takeover of the group to run the country’s basketball program and takeover the leadership of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.
Chua addressed it as plain rumors.
“No, that’s not true. Ang hirap niyan kapag nag-take over parang coup d’etat ’yun. Walang ganu’ng usapan. We’re gonna help hand in hand. Siguro ’yung utak nila at utak namin paghahaluin para mas gumanda,” said Chua.
“Again, ang daming nagsasabi sa Twitter, hindi daw kami nagpapahiram. Apat na taon na ’yang ganyan. Eh kung hindi nagpapahiram, bakit si June Mar (Fajardo) atsaka si Mo Tautuaa nasa SEA Games? It’s a matter of kung sinong hihiramin nila. Kami, lahat magpapahiram. Walang ganu’n sa PBA na hindi nagpapahiram. Eto na nga, pati coach namin ini-announce na, eh. The talk between Boss RSA and MVP, it’s a nice feeling.”
Seeing these two giant firms joining forces will ensure more stability in the Philippine basketball program as it geared towards not just the World Cup, but others as well where these stakeholders have their respective commitments.
“Una ang nagsalita si Chairman (Ricky Vargas), sabi niya, ‘Thank you, boss, pinayagan niyo si Al na maging representative ng PBA for EASL’. Second, sabi niya baka puwede daw naming mahiram si Tim Cone para sa 2023. Pagkatapos noon, puro kuwentuhan na,” Chua said.
“Mayroong basketball-related, mayroong iba biruan. Maganda yung usapan nila. For me, it doesn’t matter kung ano yung pinag-usapan. But opening that big door for my boss and Sir MVP, that’s good for the sport.
“Actually, Chairman Ricky asked my boss if I can help. Kung ano kaya nating i-chip in, bakit hindi? Kapag may tatanungin sila na baka makatulong tayo, tutulong tayo. Ngayon, kung cheering squad lang tayo, wala ring problema. Buhay natin ito, basketball. Kung ano maitutulong natin sa Pilipinas, bakit hindi?
“Ngayon sinasabi, pahiram, pahiram. It’s a matter of scheduling. Lahat ng PBA teams, yung dose na yun, magpapahiram kung sino gusto nila. Kailangan gawin ng SBP yung legit na schedule kung kalian. Hindi mo puwede itigil ang PBA. Paano mo ititigil, ititigil mo ng isang buwan o dalawang buwan? Hindi puwede. Sa 2023, puwede. Pero itong mga ganito, kailangan tama yung scheduling. Kasi, remember, naka-commit tayo sa EASL this October. Pagdating ng Governors’ Cup may Dragons tayo na dadating. Naka-set na rin schedule nila para sa atin. Meaning to say, pagkatapos ng conference, aalis ulit ’yun at lalaro sa iba. Wala tayong puwedeng putulin.”