All-Pinoy Gilas five, for now

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    THE Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is convinced an all-amateur Gilas Pilipinas side can hack it, for now.

    SBP president Al Panlilio said last Tuesday that tapping PBA players to reinforce the nationals is not feasible, with the season-opening Philippine Cup kicking off on April 11.

    “If you take a look at it, if we want to start training even as early as this month and the PBA will start its conference this season in April and this will go all the way to July 4 which is the last day of the OQT,” Panlilio said in a press conference.

    “It will completely descale the calendar of the PBA,” he added.

    Panlilio, also the first vice president of the Philippine Olympic Committee, said the five players tabbed in the special Gilas draft in 2019, namely, Isaac Go, Rey Suerte, Matt and Mike Nieto, and Allyn Bulanadi will be in the team.

    Four amateurs in William Navarro, Jaydee Tungcab, Tzaddy Rangel, and Jordan Heading will also be selected in special Gilas proceedings on March 14.

    Seven-foot-3 center Kai Sotto and Ateneo big man Ange Kouame, whose naturalization has hurdled second reading in the senate, are expected to beef up the squad.

    Collegiate standouts led by La Salle center Justine Baltazar and the University of the Philippines trio of Kobe Paras, Juan Gomez de Liaño, and Javi Gomez de Liaño could also be added to Gilas.

    “I think we have time to put up a plan of an entirely non-PBA team using the five that we already drafted last year and the four this year. That’s nine,” Panlilio said.

    “If you put the name if Ange Kouame there, potentially also Kai Sotto and some of the college players which we will be working on with the schools, I think we can come up with 20 if not 25 names that can enter the bubble as early as the end of the month to start the training.”

    With a 3-0 card in Group A, Gilas was set to clash with South Korea last Feb. 18, a reset of their initial match that was postponed in the second window in Manama last November and was also to play Indonesia last Feb. 20 and then South Korea last Feb. 22 anew.

    The Filipino dribblers just need to win one game to gain a berth in the FIBA Asia Cup set from Aug. 16 to 28 in Indonesia.