Gilas Pilipinas will have the majority of the PBA at their disposal when they start their buildup by mid-August for the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers on August 15.
The national team can choose from players of the 10 teams eliminated in the PBA, as its Philippine Cup would have already been in the Finals or the last games of the semifinals if it goes the distance.
But Gilas head coach Chot Reyes was quick to temper the expectations of the basketball-crazed Pinoy fans, noting the team will only have a week of practice before heading to Lebanon to start the window. Jordan Clarkson, meanwhile, will only arrive on the 18th.
“We already know for the coming FIBA Asia (qualifiers for World Cup fourth window) that there will be more PBA players available. I think we will have a stronger roster of players,” said Reyes after TNT nabbed a 108-96 win over Magnolia for a 1-0 lead in the semis.
“But again sasabihin na naman ng mga tao nagpapalusot ako and excuse, but we will only start practice on August 15 or 16 so we have what? One week practice before our game against Lebanon who is the Asia Cup silver medalist,” the under-fire bench tactician said.
The country’s men’s national team will first face Lebanon in Beirut on August 25 before flying home to battle Saudi Arabia on the 29th at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
The Philippines has already secured a spot in the 2023 FIBA World Cup thanks to its privilege as a tournament host together with Japan and Indonesia.
“I’m just asking for patience, support, and understanding of everyone na maski hindi masyadong maganda ‘yung performance natin, we’re still going all out sa Lebanon talagang gusto nating bumawi,” said Reyes, recalling their 95-80 loss to the Western Asia team in the last FIBA Asia Cup.
“But please understand that we are going there with barely seven, eight days of practice only. I’d rather have that than nothing at all. Diba at least meron tayong players, meron tayong panlaban sa Lebanon.”
Reyes, however, has yet to divulge the names of pro players that will be included in the pool for the fourth window.
Already eliminated in the All-Filipino were Ginebra, NLEX, Converge, Blackwater, Rain or Shine, Northport, Phoenix, and Terrafirma.
Two more from the last four squads alive (San Miguel, TNT, Magnolia, Meralco) will be booted out before the buildup for the next window.
“While we think we have a pretty good solid lineup of players, we’re still going to suffer from that lack of practice but it’s fine,” said Reyes.
“Tiis-tiisin lang natin ‘yung ngayon, ‘yung mga problema natin currently.”
Reyes, just like his previous statements, reiterated that the main goal is always the upcoming World Cup.
And all these games now are preparations leading to the biggest stage of all.
“Tinatapos lang ng lahat ng liga lahat ng schedules now so that in 2023, mayroon tayong solid three months na preparation and by then, I can say na we will have the best team,” he said.
“Alam niyo naman ang team eh hindi lang naman players yun. It includes preparation and practice.”
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.