There are compelling reasons for Gilas coach Chot Reyes why he wants the strongest team possible for the Fiba Asia Cup on Aug. 8 to 20 in Beirut, Lebanon.
The 16-nation continental championships may not be a qualifier for either the Fiba World Cup or the Olympics but it will determine our ranking, which is critical in positioning a country in the group stages of a Fiba tournament.
This will also serve as exposure to Gilas as it plays against Australia and New Zealand, which are now grouped in Asia-Oceania.
The Philippines and Australia are bracketed in the same group of the home-and-away 2019 World Cup qualifiers starting in November this year.
The Philippines is now ranked No. 27 by Fiba while Australia is No. 10 and New Zealand No. 20. The other two Asian countries higher than us are No. 14 China and No. 25 Iran.
However, coach Reyes’ wish list of players may not be realized because some PBA teams are still undecided on lending their key players for the Beirut conclave for security reasons.
Last Saturday, Reyes beat the deadline set by Fiba Asia for the submission of the initial 24-man pool for the Beirut joust.
The Gilas pool consists of cadets plus one veteran player each from the 12 PBA ballclubs as stipulated in the MOA between the PBA and SBP.
The PBA ballclubs earlier expressed concern over the safety of their players since Lebanon shares a border with Syria, the home of the dreaded ISIS group.
The Philippines is bracketed with Iraq, China and Qatar in Group B in the Fiba Asia Cup.
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