New Gilas cadets program targets 2019 Fiba World, 2020 Olympics
Gilas Pilipinas team manager Butch Antonio confirmed that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) has approved the revival of the cadets program.
Speaking to the media after the men’s national team wrapped up its Thursday morning practices at Meralco Gym, the soft-spoken executive said that the move is largely due to the drastic change in Fiba’s calendar.
“The good and only sure thing right now is the program has been approved. All this is in conjunction with the plan of Fiba to have that new home-and-away format. So we have to come up with a team that is ready to play at those times.”
Reminiscent of the Smart Gilas program back in 2009, SBP will enlist collegiate standouts and form a team which will be available for the home-and-away games in the set competition windows as Fiba adopts a new competition schedule on 2017.
Antonio also said that this may well be the national team which will vie for a spot in the 2019 Fiba World Cup in China.
“This will also be a cadet team that will probably flow into the Gilas program,” he said. “Ang tinitingnan natin is 2019 Fiba World Cup and 2020 Tokyo Olympics.”
With the framework now approved, Antonio said that SBP has already engaged in “informal talks” with these players and their job right now is to secure their commitment for the said program.
“As far as players are concerned, my task now is to formally try to get them on board. We have not have anyone attached to the program na, but I’ve had informal talks with them and the signs are positive. But until they’re actually with the program, that’s the only time I can be happy and sure that they are in it,” he said.
INQUIRER.net earlier reported nine collegiate standouts, bannered by Kiefer Ravena and Bobby Ray Parks, who are eyed to lead the new team. Naturalized center Andray Blatche is also expected to backstop the crew.
Though not opting to drop names, Antonio said that this Gilas program is targeting to keep the players together for as long as needed.
“We have about nine or 10. There are players who are still in school and we would not like to pressure them and lose focus on their schools. Our main target are the people who are finished with their commitments in their schools,” he said. “The program is targeting 2019 and 2020. The longer the term, the better it is for everybody. At least you’ll have players staying together. That’s one of the keys in having a successful team, to keep them as long as you can.”
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