MANILA, Philippines -- Playing in the PBA remains a possibility for Gilas Pilipinas as they plot their next steps towards the FIBA Asia Cup 2021.
The national team is coming off a superb showing in the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers, where they won all of their games, as well as an impressive effort in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament where they put up a good fight against Serbia and the Dominican Republic.
On Monday, they exited their quarantine hotel and are expected to get a few days of rest and relaxation before returning to work.
"They need a little bit of away time with their family, but it can't be much. We can't let this break be adversarial to the preparation for the Asia Cup," Gilas Pilipinas program director and coach Tab Baldwin told former PBA commissioner Noli Eala on his "Power and Play" program.
"They have to be ready to put the backpacks on and put their boots on, and go back to work. They will be, I'm sure of that," he added.
The idea of Gilas playing in the PBA as a guest team is not a new one. It was proposed earlier this year as well before the Asia Cup qualifiers eventually had to be rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Manny V. Pangilinan, the chairman emeritus of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, brought up the matter again in an interview with Quinito Henson of the Philippine Star.
"When MVP speaks, we all perk up both ears, and make sure we absorb exactly what he says," Baldwin said of Pangilinan's suggestion.
"I think the essence of what the boss is saying is we need games. And he's absolutely right," he added.
Baldwin explained that in an ideal world, Gilas Pilipinas would be able to travel and play in pocket tournaments in countries like Serbia, Germany, France, Estonia and Argentina.
"They would be better preparation as long as they were consistently available, and we could have the budget to go to those," he said. "That would be preferable."
However, given the circumstances, Baldwin said Gilas will have to make the most of what is available to them -- which includes the PBA.
"That's the ideal world, and sometimes, all of us in the world, we don't live in the ideal world, we live in our own world. And we have to make the best," he said. "So, the PBA is certainly a potential possibility for us."
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial already said that they welcome Gilas' participation in the upcoming conference, which opens on July 16 at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
"Kahit hindi buong conference o kahit pailan-ilan, mga six or seven games," said Marcial, stressing that it still depends on their discussions with the SBP.