With the Philippine Basketball Association struggling to fit the upcoming 2018 Asian Games into its calendar, it is becoming clearer that the 23 for 2023 Gilas Cadets will have to grow up quick for the continental meet.
Currently, the league’s biggest basketballl league has adjusted its schedule for Gilas’ games in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers. Fitting the Asian Games — which will take place from August 18 to September 2 — will only postpone the on-going season that has already been delayed due to the power struggle in the PBA prior to the season.
With this, Chooks-to-Go knows that having a full-time National Team is more important than ever.
During Kobe Paras’ homecoming brunch held at the Crowne Plaza in Pasig City, Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. president Ronald Mascariñas made it known that his company is not backing out from its proposal to finance the Cadets.
“We’re not closing the door doon sa possibility of forming a full-time National Team,” Mascariñas shared. “So, right now, parang the direction is really towards that, for example yung Asian Games, wala talagang available na PBA players, so who will represent the country?
“Parang it’s being clearer now na in certain tournaments, PBA players will not be available, so the Gilas Cadets will have to fill up the shoes and rep the country. There might be other tourneys na hindi FIBA-sanctioned but necessary to represent the country, and these young guys will be ready to serve our country.”
Two of the players he is eyeing are Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero.
Currently, the two young studs are not committed to any school or team, as Paras withdrew his commitment to Cal State Northridge while Rivero left the De La Salle University.
“I’m glad I’m here now, when I said I was going to go pro, Chooks was there for me,” said the 20-year-old Paras, who was part of the 2017 Southeast Asian Games team.
“When I left La Salle, I didn’t know yet where I’m going, so I told my parents na I want to focus on Gilas first, kasi it’s my dream talaga to play for the national team,” added Rivero, who was the UAAP Season 80 Men’s Basketball Most Improved Player.
Still, Mascariñas knows that it will be tough for the Cadets to deliver against much older and more mature competition in the Asian meet. But for him, it has to start somewhere.
“Of course our best shot really is to get the elite Gilas players from the PBA. But there are pronouncements already from the PBA na it will be difficult to adjust the schedule kasi nag-adjust na ang PBA ng schedule for the next round ng FIBA qualifiers. So wala namang choice eh,” the Gilas backer conceded.
“I think the best option left for the country is to field yung Gilas Cadets natin, that’s why it’s important na they start competing now, so over time, lumakas ‘yung team work ng Cadets.”