GILAS Pilipinas’ stint as a guest team in the PBA should do wonders for the squad, if and when the plan pushes through.
Former Gilas (then known as Smart Gilas) deputy coach Jude Roque is convinced playing in the pros will toughen up the Filipino cagers.
“It’s a good training for the team,” Roque told Malaya-Business Insight. “They will be able to compete against the best in the pros.”
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas said it will decide whether it will accept the PBA’s invitation after the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers.
The last time the nationals saw action in the pro league was in the 2011 mid-season Commissioner’s Cup when the team, bannered by then amateur standouts Chris Tiu, JVee Casio, Mark Barroca, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Lutz, Japeth Aguilar, and naturalized player Marcus Douthit, finished with a 7-2 card with Serbian Rajko Toroman calling the shots.
The Northern Consolidated Corp five of the late Ron Jacobs in the mid-1980s was the last Philippine squad given the opportunity to compete for the crown.
Then led by the country’s top amateur stars and backstopped by naturalized players Jeff Moore and Dennis Still, NCC joined the pro league as a guest team during the 1984 and 1985 seasons and bagged the title in the 1985 Reinforced Conference.
Roque, now San Beda University’s team manager in the NCAA, said Toroman’s Gilas side that nearly clinched a berth in the 2012 London Olympics after winding up fourth in the 2011 FIBA Asia championship in Wuhan, China, got a big boost from its PBA campaign.
“We gained experience in playing against high level talent,” Roque said.
Clark was initially set to host two groups of the qualifiers— Group A where Gilas Pilipinas is bracketed, and Group C.
Three of the countries in those brackets such as South Korea (Group A), Australia (Group C), and Hong Kong (Group C), however, were included in the government-imposed travel ban as the Philippines tried to contain the spread of the United Kingdom variant of the killer COVID-19.