SBP looking at dedicated national team bolstered by ‘two or three’ pros
Al Panlilio, president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), said one of the federation’s biggest lessons from the past decade was acknowledging that patching up a national squad on the fly doesn’t quite get the job done.
“There are weaknesses [in the] old formula,” he told reporters on Saturday. “That’s why this time, we have to build a dedicated national team.”
Panlilio, the Meralco Bolts’ governor who joined his team in the PBA Finals’ presser in Eastwood City in Libis, said that the basketball leadership is working on the double to prepare for the Fiba Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers, which unfolds over a month from now.
And part of the steps is naming an interim coach and growing the pool for the window of games to be played on Feb. 20 and 23 against Thailand and Indonesia, respectively.
“The foundation is already there. The challenge now is sustainability. Right now, the [immediate] task is [figuring out] how to be better every time,” Panlilio said.
“It’s forming the team, creating the program, bringing that core team to the United States in preparation for the windows,” he added.
Seven players have already been named to the pool. Five of them joined the PBA draft last December: Isaac Go, Rey Suerte, Allyn Bulanadi and brothers Matt and Mike Nieto.
Thirdy Ravena and Jaydee Tungcab were then recently added to the pool, according to Panlilio.
The list of talents should grow in the coming days, while the interim coach is set to be named in the “next week or so,” Panlilio said.
Pros won’t be out of the picture still as the SBP hopes to augment the pool with PBA stars to make the team competitive by February.
It’s an approach he believes will still be relevant come 2023, when the Philippine hosts the Fiba World Cup.
“In 2023, does it mean we’ll not tap PBA players? Maybe we’ll do. Two, three names?” he said.
“How can you not consider a June Mar Fajardo? By that time, he’s 31. That’s still the peak of his career. How can you not consider [a multiple] MVP [winner]? We’ll be needing his size; we’ll be needing his experience.”
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