The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is open to the idea of having Gilas Pilipinas participate as a guest team in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup which is scheduled to tip-off on April 9.
The pro league, through Commissioner Willie Marcial, had earlier expended an invitation to the national team to aid in its preparation for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup which is slated this coming August in Indonesia.
“The SBP is thankful to PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial and the Board of Governors for extending an invitation to Gilas Pilipinas to join their competitions this season,” said SBP President Al Panlilio.
“The PBA has been a valuable partner to the SBP and this invitation only reasserts the league’s commitment to helping our Gilas Pilipinas program in whatever way they can,” he added.
“Aside from lending players, assistant coaches, and even head coaches for the national team’s cause, the SBP appreciates the PBA’s willingness to adjust their competition to accommodate our team.”
The last time the Philippine national basketball team participated in the PBA was during the 2011 Commissioner’s Cup. Rajko Toroman called the shots for the squad which was bannered by naturalized player Marcus Douthit and composed of then-amateur standouts Japeth Aguilar, Chris Tiu, JVee Casio, Marcio Lassiter, Mark Barroca, and Aldrech Ramos.
The team finished in second place after the elimination round but couldn’t get past Brgy. Ginebra in the semifinals.
“We know the value of being able to play games against PBA teams on a regular basis as evidenced by the exploits of Smart-Gilas 1 back in 2011,”Training is important for any team but you learn a lot about your teammates when you go up against strong opposition,” explained Panlilio.
“Right now the focus Gilas Pilipinas program director Tab Baldwin, together with his coaching staff, is preparing our team for the upcoming games against South Korea and Indonesia. We’re definitely open to the idea of playing in the PBA and once the team arrives from Doha, we will sit down with the PBA to discuss this matter further,” added the concurrent Meralco Bolts team governor.
Gilas is currently in the final stretch of its preparation for the third and final window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers and is scheduled to depart for Doha, Qatar this Saturday.