The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is open to the idea of having the Gilas Pilipinas Men’s team to compete in the PBA after Commissioner Willie Marcial extended an invitation.
“The SBP is thankful to PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial and the Board of Governors for extending an invitation to Gilas Pilipinas to join their competitions this season,” said SBP President Al Panlilio.
“The PBA has been a valuable partner to the SBP and this invitation only reasserts the league’s commitment to helping our Gilas Pilipinas program in whatever way they can,” added Panlilio.
“Aside from lending players, assistant coaches, and even head coaches for the national team’s cause, the SBP appreciates the PBA’s willingness to adjust their competition to accommodate our team.”
The last time that the national team joined a PBA conference was in the 2011 PBA Commissioner’s Cup with Smart-Gilas Pilipinas bannered by naturalized Filipino Marcus Douthit playing alongside the likes of Japeth Aguilar, Chris Tiu, JVee Casio, Marcio Lassiter, Mark Barroca, and Aldrech Ramos. The squad led by Rajko Toroman finished second in the elimination round to qualify straight to the semifinals where they eventually lost to Barangay Ginebra.
“We know the value of being able to play games against PBA teams on a regular basis as evidenced by the exploits of Smart-Gilas 1 back in 2011,” explained Panlilio. “Training is important for any team but you learn a lot about your teammates when you go up against strong opposition.”
Gilas Pilipinas is now in the homestretch of their preparations for the final window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers. The team is set to fly out to Doha, Qatar on Saturday.
“Right now the focus Gilas Pilipinas program director Tab Baldwin, together with his coaching staff, is preparing our team for the upcoming games against South Korea and Indonesia,” said Panlilio.
“We’re definitely open to the idea of playing in the PBA and once the team arrives from Doha, we will sit down with the PBA to discuss this matter further.”