THE PBA has renewed its commitment to the Gilas Pilipinas program as the national squad shifts its 2023 FIBA World Cup buildup to high gear. First order of business is to provide reinforcements to the undermanned Gilas pool for the World Cup's Asian Qualifiers window set Feb. 24-28 by making available stalwarts of the TNT Tropang Giga.
"The PBA once again will adjust its schedule to allow some players from TNT to be with Gilas not only during the window but also during practices," PBA chairman Ricky Vargas said after Friday's special board meeting.
"It was a unanimous decision by the board to support that stint. We also discussed a little bit about not only the February support for Gilas but also we're looking forward to continuing the support up to World Cup 2023," he added.
The Tropang Giga hooked up with Gilas cadets Angelo Kouame, Tzaddy Rangel, Will Navarro, JD Tungcab and Juan Gomez de Liano in a training bubble conducted by coach Chot Reyes in Lipa City. Japan-based Dwight Ramos was to arrive Friday night to join the squad.
SBP president Al Panlilio, who also sits on the PBA board representing the Meralco Bolts, said the federation and the pro league will discuss longer-term arrangements after the February games.
"Beyond the February window, we'll have a full lineup, a pool that can lead us up to 2023," said Panlilio.
"I've asked coach Chot already because we have to see what that team will look like and whether there will be some PBA players. I think the PBA is open if we identify a handful, two or three players, who we say should be part of it. I think the PBA will allow those players to be part of the lineup. We'll work on that after the February window," he added.
The pro league asked that the concerned players be identified as early as possible.
"We're very supportive of this team. It's just our wish to know early enough which will be the core of our team for World Cup 2023 so we can actually go ahead training them. Masyadong malapit na ang World Cup and we also have the SEA Games and the Asian Games this year," said Vargas.
To make room for TNT's FIBA stint, the PBA tweaked the schedule of the Governors' Cup that's set to resume on Friday. The Tropang Giga are calendared to play four quick games so they can shift focus to national team duties.
"I think there will be time for TNT to be able to serve its role in Gilas," said Vargas, also the TNT governor.
While the FIBA games are ongoing at the Big Dome, commissioner Willie Marcial said PBA action will continue over at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City. (OL) (PBA)