by Jonas Terrado
CALASIAO, Pangasinan — With the busy PBA schedule in mind, Gilas Pilipinas is likely to hold twice-a-week practices during its buildup for the FIBA World Cup slated Aug. 31 to Sept. 15 in China.
PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial said Gilas coach Yeng Guiao was open with the arrangement after the plan to join the William Jones Cup was shelved due to the ongoing Philippine Cup and the succeeding Commissioner’s Cup.
Marcial added that Gilas will have plenty of time to prepare in the final weeks before the World Cup with the Commissioner’s Cup set to conclude in mid-August.
“Bibigyan natin sila ng 10 days before (ng World Cup) kasi by Aug. 7 tapos na ang semifinals so pwede nang gamitin yung iba. Yung buong buhos sa kanya baka Aug. 20 o Aug. 19 (after ng Finals),” Marcial said.
[We’ll set 10 days before the World Cup since the semis ends Aug. 7 and (coach Yeng) we’ll have the players by finals end on Aug. 20 or Aug. 19.]
Gilas will need to emerge as the best-ranked Asian team after the World Cup in order to secure qualification to next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
The Filipinos were bracketed in Group D slated in Foshan, China where they’ll face powerhouse Serbia, Italy and Angola.
Gilas must finish in the top two in order to make the next round and enhance its chances of giving the Philippines its first Olympic appearance since the 1972 Munich Games.
Guiao had earlier hoped for a possible Jones Cup stint in July.
The current season is slated to conclude in January 2020 due to Gilas’ participation in the World Cup and the country’s hosting of the Southeast Asian Games in November.
The ongoing Philippine Cup will end in mid-May with the Commissioner’s Cup slated to start a few days later.