The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is banking on the development of young players to further strengthen the national team heading into the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
“I think the program is to really develop the likes of Thirdy [Ravena], sila Dwight [Ramos] [heading] into the World Cup. That’s the core of the program naman that we started,” SBP President Al Panlilio told reporters after a formal press conference at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Owner’s Circle Thursday, Feb. 24.
While shifting their focus in honing younger cagers, Panlilio said the SBP is still looking to tap a handful of PBA players for the pool.
Panlilio is also set to discuss further developments about the Gilas program with national coach Chot Reyes.
The SBP chief said a sit-down discussion, along with Reyes, is needed especially with other players who have commitments overseas to avoid conflict.
Thirdy and Ramos, for instance, are signed with their respective teams in the Japan B.League.
Seven-foot-3 center Kai Sotto, who was also mentioned by Panlilio, might still be busy with the Adelaide 36ers in the NBL by that time.
“We’d like to mix them (young players) with some other important players that we might be lacking,” added Panlilio. “But for sure I’d like to bring in AJ Edu, the likes of [Carl] Tamayo, [Justine] Baltazar.”
The 2023 FIBA World Cup will be co-hosted by the Philippines, Indonesia, and Japan from Aug. 25 to Sep. 10.
Meanwhile, following South Korea’s decision to pull out, Gilas Pilipinas will open their FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers campaign against India, Friday, Feb. 25, and will next face New Zealand on the 27th.