By Waylon Galvez
The support of the national team Gilas Pilipinas will continue as far as PBA commissioner Willie Marcial is concerned, particularly when the country plays host to the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
The national team opened its campaign in the FIBA Asian Cup qualifiers with a 100-70 win over Indonesia last Sunday, with seven pro players on the squad led by Kiefer Ravena and CJ Perez.
Marcial said the PBA board, chaired by Ricky Vargas of TNT KaTropa, has always been supportive of the programs of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), including the formation of the national team for various international competitions.
“Kung hinihingi ng SBP yung mga players natin and OK sa schedule natin, OK sa teams at players, ganun pa rin naman ang suporta natin sa Gilas,” said Marcial yesterday during the press briefing for the 45th PBA season at the Conrad Hotel in Pasay City.
“Katulad ng 3×3, hinihingi nila yung mga players natin, binibigay natin basta OK ahead of time para maayos namin schedule. Ganun pa rin tayo, kung papaaano tayo sumuporta sa mga nakalipas na taon, ganun pa rin ang suporta natin sa SBP,” added Marcial.
The PBA will formally start March 8 with Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Aside from Ravena and Perez, the SBP – headed by its president Al Panlilio – included in the Gilas squad are Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario, Poy Erram, Justin Chua and Abu Tratter.
With several more tournaments set this year for the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers, Marcial said the league is open to adjusting its schedule to accommodate games of Gilas Pilipinas.
“Puwede naman pag-usapan kung talagang kailangan. Pero ang alam ko gumagawa naman ng sariling team ang SBP para sa Gilas. Pero kapag hinihingi ng pagkakataon, madali naman kausapin ang mga governors,” he said.
“Up to 2023 FIBA World Cup na tayo ang magho-host, kung humingi sila ng tulong sa PBA, tutulungan pa rin natin.”