Mix of young players and vets eyed for Gilas in ‘very tough’ February window
MANILA, Philippines — Gilas Pilipinas’ cadets passed their baptism of fire when they routed Thailand twice in the November window of the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup Qualifiers but the bigger tests await in the February competitions.
The Philippines will be up against eternal tormentor South Korea and a revamped Indonesia team in February, and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio knows that going up against the better opponents would mean bringing in professional muscle.
With the PBA on break after the Philippine Cup, the SBP can readily ask league commissioner Willie Marcial and Panlilio, together with Gilas program director Tab Baldwin, plans to give the list in a few days.
“I’m working with coach Tab, hopefully, next week I can give the list of players to request,” said Panlilio in a virtual press conference Saturday.
Panlilio said he and Gilas want to learn from their experience in Bahrain during the November window and that even though they left the Manama bubble undefeated, they still want to improve the team’s capabilities come February.
“We want to learn from the Bahrain window where we had young players but we want to develop them in this window,” said Panlilio. “Since the PBA is on break, we’d like to bring PBA players in combination with the young players.”
The team that traveled to Bahrain was composed of players who have yet to play the professional level with Matt Nieto, Isaac Go, Dwight Ramos, and Juan Gomez de Liaño the only ones with prior experience in the senior international level.
Panlilio believes that having an influx of PBA players in the team will not only help them against their opponents but also develop the younger players on and off the court.
“This window is a very tough window for us,” said Panlilio. “We have two games against Korea and a much-improved Indonesia team.”
“It’s not just for the window, this is a developmental program for the SBP. Our vision is 2023 and we want to use these events to develop the young players and bring in the veterans.”