No PBA players for FIBA OQT, Asia Cup Qualifiers

Published March 9, 2021, 5:19 PM

by Jonas Terrado

Photo from FIBA

Some of the big guns from the PBA won’t be reinforcing Gilas Pilipinas for the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers and the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio said the decision was made as the two international tournaments will be in conflict with the PBA schedule.

“If you take a look at it, we really want to start training even as early as this month, and the PBA will start its conference and this would go all the way to July 4 which is the last day of the OQT,” Panlilio said after the PBA planning session held Tuesday, March 9, 2021.

The PBA is planning to open its 46th season on April 11 with a two-conference format that will last for 10 months.

Gilas, on the other hand, is likely to host the final installment of the continental qualifiers in June in Clark, Pampanga while the OQT is set June 29 to July 4 in Belgrade, Serbia.

The Philippines suddenly got a spot in the OQT after New Zealand opted to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics qualifier.

“It will completely descale the calendar of the PBA, so we have time to put up a plan and that is being thought of now of an entirely non-PBA team,” added Panlilio.

Panlilio is hoping that Ange Kouame and Kai Sotto can be available for the two competitions.

Kouame is waiting for the Senate to pass a bill seeking his naturalization and for President Duterte to subsequently sign it into law.

Sotto, who didn’t play for the Ignite in the NBA G-League bubble, was supposed to play for Gilas last month but Doha’s hosting of the qualifiers was cancelled due to rising COVID-19 cases in Qatar.