For the first time in a decade, Gilas Pilipinas will once again grace the courts of the Philippine Basketball Association.
PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial has revealed that the league and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas are planning to have the Philippine Men’s National Basketball Team as a guest team for the upcoming 2021 PBA Philippine Cup.
With this development, last year’s picks in the Gilas round of the PBA Rookie Draft – namely Isaac Go, the Nieto twins, Allyn Bulanadi, and Rey Suerte – will get to play in the PBA. Furthermore, Marcial added that the SBP is looking to have “three to five” players in this year’s Gilas Draft.
So at the maximum, Gilas will have 10 players for the conference. Where will they get the rest of the players to fill up their roster, then?
According to Marcial, the PBA’s Board of Governors will allow the national team to add the Cadets.
For the Doha window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers, the Cadets in are the Gomez de Liaño brothers, Dwight Ramos, Dave Ildefonso, Justine Baltazar, and Kai Sotto.
“For this year, three to five ang kukunin nila. Bale ang mangyayari, the rest of the team sa Cadets pa rin para magka-experience din sila at makalaro sila sa PBA,” said Marcial.
Since the seven players are still amateurs, they are required to get a special guest license from the Games and Amusements Board.
Unlike the case of Juan Gomez de Liaño last year when he played during the 2020 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 President’s Cup, the University Athletic Association of the Philippines will allow Javi Gomez de Liano of UP; Ramos and Ildefonso of Ateneo; and Baltazar of La Salle to avail of the SGL as league rules state that their student-athletes can only play in GAB-sanctioned leagues if it is for the national team or a school-based squad.
“Oo naman, kahit naman ‘yung NCC nun ganun. Kasi guest team natin sila para sa National Team. Ipapaalam lang sa Games and Amusements Board,” continued Marcial.
The Azkals Development Team did the same during the 2020 Philippines Football League. There, the likes of Jethro Borlongan, Lance Ocampo, and Marcel Ouano availed of the SGL to play in the pro league.
One more amateur that the PBA will allow to reinforce Gilas is Angelo Kouame. The Ivorian is currently in the process of naturalization as a full Filipino citizen.
This has already happened back in the 2009-10 Philippine Cup and 2011 Commissioner’s Cup. Gilas had CJ Giles and Marcus Douthit, respectively.
“Okay lang, ‘di ba? Walang problema kung isama nila si Angelo, basta makatulong ang PBA sa Gilas,” expressed Marcial.
Kouame will also have to avail of a special guest license.