WILL Gilas Pilipinas follow Korea?
Citing the health perils and uncertainties posed by the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic under a bubble set-up in Manama, Bahrain, Korea last Tuesday night decided to pull out of the November window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers.
In a report by News Naver’s Min Joon Gu, the Korea Basketball Association deemed it is not safe to travel to Bahrain.
“Considering the health of the national team, I thought it was right not to go to Bahrain,” an unmanned KBA official was quoted as saying.
Boosted by former PBA import and naturalized big man Ricardo Ratliffe, now known as Ra Gun A, the Koreans, who are holding a 2-0 card in Group A, are set to tackle Gilas on Nov. 28 and Indonesia two days later.
Gilas will likely field a squad bannered by collegiate standouts.
Among those likely to suit up are big man Isaac Go, guard Rey Suerte, wingman Allyn Bulanadi, and twins Matt and Mike Nieto, all Gilas special draftees last year, and wingman Jaydee Tungcab.
Amateur stars Kobe Paras of University of the Philippines, reigning NCAA MVP Calvin Oftana of San Beda University, Ateneo guard Dave Ildefonso, and brothers Javi and Juan Gomez de Liaño hinted that they set for training but the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas has yet to name the composition of the training pool.
The nationals reportedly will hold a bubble training at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.
The training, however, is on hold pending the go-signal from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
SBP program director Tab Baldwin earlier ruled out PBA players from suiting up for Gilas since they are playing in the PBA Philippine Cup bubble in Angeles City, Pampanga.
The SBP also has yet to name who will call the shots in the qualifiers, although former PBA champion coach and Gilas deputy Jong Uichico will likely be tapped as a member of the coaching staff.
Gilas has no naturalized player at the moment, but Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara has filed last Oct. 22 Senate Bill 1892 seeking to grant Philippine citizenship to the Blue Eagles’ 6-foot-10 big man Angelo Kouame of Ivory Coast.
The Filipino dribblers’ match against Thailand last Feb. 20 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum was cancelled due to the threat posed by the COVID-19.