PBA, SBP plot SEA Games squad

The Philippine Basketball Association and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas are deep in their talks, working hard to plot a strong team that will represent the country in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Phnom Penh starting 5 March.

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said he is discussing with Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes about the formation of the squad that aims to reclaim the country’s lost glory in the biennial meet.

The Filipinos will be marching to the SEA Games with a lot to prove after Indonesia ended their three-decade reign in the men’s basketball event in Hanoi last year.

The humiliating setback had put the federation under fire that even led to the resignation of Reyes.

Now, the Filipinos are determined to get back on their feet and a positive discussion with the PBA is a good start as far as the formation of a competitive team is concerned.

“We’re in discussions,” Marcial told Daily Tribune in a telephone interview.

“Coach Chot and I were talking and planning about how we can assemble a competitive team, the formation of the roster and the practice schedule of the players.”

Marcial said the main problem that he sees is the limited time for preparation.

Since the Governors’ Cup will end on 28 April at the latest, the all-professional Gilas squad will have only a week to prepare for the SEA Games.

“We cannot add more days because teams will be having a hard time in their preparation,” Marcial said, adding that they already fast tracked the eliminations with a schedule of five playing days a week to accommodate the schedule of the national squad.

Marcial confirmed that it appears that an all-PBA team bannered by naturalized player Justin Brownlee will be deployed to the biennial meet.

After all, the Cambodia SEA Games Organizing Committee came up with a more lenient eligibility guideline in which passport is already enough for athletes to compete.

With this, even Filipino-foreign players who hold Philippine passports can suit up for the national squad and help in reclaiming the glory in the 11-nation conclave.

But Gilas Pilipinas had already submitted a long list of players and those who will be rostered should come from that pool
“We’ve submitted more than 24 players as required by the SEA Games organizing committee, so we’re no longer allowed to add more players,” Reyes said.

Brownlee was included in that list, but players seeing action in the Japan B. League like Dwight Ramos, Ray Parks, Jordan Heading and the Ravena brothers — Kiefer and Thirdy — won’t be available, according to Reyes.

The B. League would only end in the second week of May and it won’t stop its competition unlike the FIBA-sanctioned events.

Gilas team manager Butch Antonio said he has been constantly communicating with Reyes about the plans for the SEA Games.

“We’re still looking at options on coming up with the best preparation and the best team (for the SEA Games),” Antonio said.

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