File photo of some members of last year’s Gilas Pilipinas national team while singing the national anthem. (Photo credits: Philippine Star)
By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA — Following a call from several senators for an investigation over Gilas Pilipinas’ dismal performance in a recent major international tournament, top basketball stakeholders rallied behind the bid of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) to form a ‘super team’ that will represent the country in the 2023 Fédération Internationale de Basketball (FIBA) World Cup to be held in Manila.
Prior to this, senators Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go, Mark Villar, Joel Villanueva, Francis Tolentino, and Alan Peter Cayetano filed Senate Resolution No. 83, urging the Senate Committee on Sports to “conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation” on ways to support the Gilas Pilipinas men’s basketball team in its performance and campaigns in the international stage.
The five lawmakers are seeking a review of the “relevant laws and policies to ensure the optimal performance in future international competitions.”
However, in what could be construed as a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction, Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes disclosed that plans have already been ironed out to formally clinch the support of stakeholders, who vowed to form the strongest, most competitive national team that would campaign in the prestigious event that the country will host next year.
For one, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) has already made all of its players available and will be holding only two conferences in Season 48 to give way for the 19th FIBA World Cup, which is the world’s biggest basketball event outside the Olympics.
Aside from lending its professional players, the country’s premier basketball league will also lend the players of teams who were eliminated from the Philippine Cup to Gilas Pilipinas for the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers scheduled from August 22 to 30 (the current year).
“We will have two conferences next season. That’s what we can do to help Gilas,” PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said, reiterating the statement he made shortly after the PBA board meeting last week.
Even the country’s top collegiate leagues—the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP)—have also agreed, saying that they don’t see any problem lending their players since their schedules will not be in conflict with the World Cup. (ai/mtvn)