AS SUSPENSIONS LOOM
The Philippine Basketball Association will make its players available to the Gilas national team for the fourth window of the Fiba World Cup, but the league could not guarantee any more players for the Asian Games set to start next month in Indonesia.
This could set a precedent of the national basketball squad’s withdrawal from the Asian Games by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, the country’s governing body for the sport, as the Gilas are expected to be filled with players from Talk ‘N Text.
Many of those players, however, figured in the brawl that transpired between the Philippines and Australia during the third window of the Fiba World Cup in Bulacan and the SBP is seemingly left with very limited options, including the possibility of pulling out from the Asiad.
An SBP source told the Tribune that the federation would take the “moral ground” of considering the withdrawal as the International Basketball Federation is set to announce possible suspensions against the players involved in the melee on Saturday. (See related story on page 1).
But Basketball Australia, the SBP counterpart, requested for an extension on the submission of pieces of evidence and statements, including possible video clips of what could have triggered the on-court fight until Friday.
The Fiba closed the final submission of statements and evidence last Tuesday. It is not clear whether it would allow Basketball Australia’s plea to submit more materials in hopes to exculpate all five or some of its players who figured in the melee against the Filipino cagers.
League Commissioner Willie Marcial, however, said the Nationals would not have problems filling in Gilas slots should the Fiba impose sanctions on Andray Blatche, Jason Castro, Terrence Romeo, Troy Rosario and Roger Pogoy– all T’NT players who play for Gilas.
But the available players to be culled from all PBA members teams would only be available for the fourth window of the Fiba World Cup to be set in September.
“That was the agreement among the Board Members,” Marcial said. “Coach Chot (Reyes) will choose from all the teams the players he wants. The PBA will also give way to the tournament by not clashing with the Fiba schedules.”
Marcial emphasized that the availability of players, however, would only be for the Fiba World Cup.
“We have not discussed the possibility of Fiba sanctions against the Fiba players,” Marcial said. “But we are waiting for developments. We are also interested on how the Fiba will act on the issue.”
While the Fiba is expected to release its verdict on Saturday, the PBA Board is also set to convene a meeting on July 16.
“We hope the Fiba would have its decision on the matter by then,” Marcial said.
But for now, a withdrawal from the Asian Games is said to be looming as the SBP is faced with shortage of players if the five T’NT cagers receive sanctions from the Fiba.
Japeth Aguilar, Calvin Abueva, Carl Bryan Cruz and Matthew Wright also figured in the melee, along with members of the Gilas coaching staff.
The Aussies crushed Gilas Pilipinas, 89-53, in that shortened game.