PBA stars out of Gilas soon; SBP reverting to cadet program
THE SAMAHANG Basketbol ng Pilipinas plans to revert to the original Gilas cadet program after the Olympic Qualifying Tournament next month in Manila, signaling the discontinuation of PBA playersí participation in the national five.
The plan, as reported by the Inquirer during Gilas’ stint in last year’s Jones Cup in Taipei, will have collegiate stars and top amateurs plus a naturalized players donning the national tri-colors in a hectic schedule of tournaments leading up to the 2019 World Cup.
Amateur stars like Kevin Ferrer, Kiefer Ravena, Mac Belo and Bobby Ray Parks are being wooed to pledge their long-term commitment to the new Gilas program.
A similar program was put in place by basketball godfather Manny V. Pangilinan in 2010 and the team included former amateurs Marcio Lassiter, Chris Lutz, Mark Barroca and Chris Tiu.
Rajko Toroman handled that squad before Chot Reyes took over a couple of years later with a team made up of millionaire PBA stars.
Pangilinan has three PBA teams and could lend some of his players to the new Gilas five, like he did during Toroman’s time.
Reyes won the Jones Cup in 2012, placed second to Iran in the Fiba Asia World Cup Qualifier in Manila the following year and then guided a Philippine team that saw action for the first time in 40 years in the World Cup in Seville, Spain.
Ricky Vargas, a trusted Pangilinan lieutenant, told a handful of reporters last year in Taipei of the SBP’s cadet plan.
A team being handled by Tab Baldwin is in the middle of the preparations for the Rio Qualifiers, slated July 5 to 11, at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
The Filipinos will tangle with Tony Parker and the French national side and then New Zealand. A win against either team will set up Gilas for a crossover knockout match against Canada, Turkey or Senegal, three teams which comprise the other group.
Andray Blatche is the country’s naturalized player.
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