If its schedule allows it, Gilas Pilipinas is welcome anytime to see action in the Philippine Cup if the twice-postponed opening of the Philippine Basketball Association’s 46th season gets to kick off late next month or early June.
Guesting at the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) online Forum on Tuesday, PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said Gilas can play at least eight to 10 games as part of its buildup for two international tournaments the Nationals are competing in, namely, the Fiba Asia qualifiers and the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
“Gusto nga sana namin regular (competitor) na pwedeng mag-champion,” said Marcial of the league’s desire to help the Nationals prepare for these tournaments.
“Pero syempre depende rin sa practices nila at overall program (which might include) training abroad,” added Marcial.
If ever, the PBA would hold triple-headers, with Gilas featured in the curtain-raisers in tune-ups versus the PBA ball clubs.
“Ganon pa rin ang schedule – Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Triple-headers pag may laro ang Gilas,” said Marcial on their targeted May or June kickoff of the Philippine Cup.
Meanwhile, the Gilas pool has resumed training under a bubble scheme at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.
Isaac Go, Rey Suerte, Mike and Matt Nieto, Jordan Heading, William Navarro, Tzaddy Rangel and Jaydee Tungcab, draftees in PBA Gilas special drafts, are part of the pool gearing up for the Asia Cup qualifiers on June 16-20 in Clark and the succeeding OQT in Serbia nine days later.
The PBA has had a number of tournaments featuring the national team as a guest squad.
The Ron Jacobs-mentored NCC Philippine team had had the most number of tournament appearances, twice placing third before winning the 1985 Reinforced Conference championship.