Amid all the drama happening in the PBA, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan urged the basketball public to be united as Smart Gilas Pilipinas prepares for the next challenge at hand: the 2019 Fiba World Cup qualifiers.
“We are hoping that the best of the best players in the country will join Gilas for this tournament,” he said in a statement. “We are calling for the support of every club team and every collegiate program to support this endeavor.”
The national team handled by coach Chot Reyes returns to practice on Friday evening as they get the wheels turning for the first leg of the Asian qualifiers.
There are doubts whether the best players from all teams will be made available for Gilas practices with the clear divide on the PBA Board of Governors but the SMC bloc along with its allied reaffirmed their commitment to the national team.
Instituting a new format, Fiba will be holding a home-and-away structure, with Asia being divided into four groups of four in the first round.
The Philippines is slotted in Group B, together with 2017 Fiba Asia Cup champion Australia, Japan, and Chinese Taipei.
Smart Gilas Pilipinas opens its campaign in Tokyo when it faces off against Japan on November 24. The national team will then fly back home, this time taking on Chinese Taipei at Smart Araneta Coliseum on November 27.
Pangilinan has full confidence that the Philippines can trot out the best squad for the first leg of the home-and-away format as it seeks to make it to the 2019 Fiba World Cup in China.
“Every tournament we joined this year was done in preparation for this tournament. Though the new FIBA format for qualification is different from past editions, we are confident that we will adjust to this and return to the global stage once more,” said the chairman of Smart, who is once again stepping up to the plate as the national team’s chief backer.
Pangilinan also encouraged the public to give their full support on Smart Gilas Pilipinas anew.
“Let’s show the world once again what puso is all about!” he said.