PBA awaiting list of SBP player request to settle availability of pros; Marcial sees no hitches
The PBA is waiting for the final list of players needed by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) for the Gilas Pilipinas pool for the third window of the Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers so the league can discuss the request.
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial told the Inquirer late Tuesday that the league is expected to back the SBP, which will need more reinforcements in the absence of a naturalized player for its Group A bubble scheduled in February at Clark Freeport.
“I don’t see any problem because the PBA has always supported the national program,” said Marcial in Filipino. “The only problem I see is if the players they want are not in the country or cannot join because of prior commitments.”
“That’s why the list will have to be discussed,” he added.
The PBA is currently in a long break after completing its 45th season and crowning a Philippine Cup champion in a bubble recently. But Marcial said several players might have taken advantage of the break to vacation out of the country.
The PBA said it was expecting the SBP list within the week, with Marcial adding that the league will discuss the matter in a meeting in the first week of January.
Marcial was confident that players in the list will agree to joining the national pool.
“I think the players will be cooperative. As long as they’re healthy and they’re in the country, I don’t see them saying no to a chance to represent the country,” the commissioner said.
Gilas Pilipinas will face South Korea twice and Indonesia once in the Clark bubble, and it needs just one win out of those three games to qualify for the continental basketball showpiece that Indonesia will host in August next year.
All 15 players that flew to Bahrain for the second window have already been invited to the pool. The players, mostly amateur standouts, helped the Philippines hike its record to a Group A-leading 3-0 card after demolishing Thailand twice in the second window in Bahrain.
The Philippines, however, will not be able to field naturalization candidate Ange Kouame, whose process could extend beyond the February window, according to Rep. Robbie Puno. Puno is the main sponsor of the bill aimed at naturalizing Ateneo’s Ivorian center. INQ
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