Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio proudly shared that some from FIBA were left impressed with the youth-laden Gilas Pilipinas in the previous 2021 Asia Cup Qualifiers window last November.
The amiable executive said that FIBA secretary general Andreas Zagklis was among those who praised the Nationals for how they played against a veteran Thailand team in the meet held in Manama, Bahrain.
“We also got accolades from Secretary-General Andreas for this program that we have,” Panlilio told Radyo5’s Power and Play.
Gilas sent the Cadets as PBA players weren’t available that time due to their bubble season, and they exceeded expectations by owning their ASEAN rivals in the two games they met to improve to 3-0 in Group A.
Isaac Go, Rey Suerte, Matt and Mike Nieto, Calvin Oftana, William Navarro, Jaydee Tungcab, Dwight Ramos, Juan and Javi Gomez de Liano, Kemark Carino, Justine Baltazar, Dave Ildefonso, and Kobe Paras made up the team.
“Our performance in Bahrain, they were very impressed with young players competing against men and the performance we had there,” said Panlilio, as Gilas romped the Thais by an average margin of 28 points.
“He (Zagklis) was very happy with the development. For him, it’s a progress of Philippine basketball.”
This is indeed good news for the SBP and Gilas, as it tells that the program’s youth-oriented approach is on the right track — an approach they’ve taken to hone the best possible talents for the 2023 World Cup here.
Panlilio, however, said that they are not just looking at the prestigious global meet to be hosted by the Philippines together with Japan and Indonesia. The federation is also looking way beyond that.
“Sa akin kasi it’s really the sustainability of the program eh. I look at it long-term, beyond 2023. We want to compete well in 2023 since we’re hosting it here, but longer-term din ang thinking namin sa national team program,” he said.
“If we can develop that pool of players, then we have more options, we have more choices. And we’re also increasing our pool, hopefully, of naturalized players … It’s really developing a bigger pool of players.”
But then again, the PBA players remain very much involved with the national team program, Panlilio clarified.
“For the bigger tournaments, we can find a way where we can also inject this program, of course, with the best players in the country, the PBA players,” said Panlilio, who’s also the governor of Meralco in the pro league.
“It’s really developing this young core of players and making them battle-ready. And if you inject them with three to five veterans, I think we can be very competitive internationally.”