By Waylon Galvez
PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial has assured that the league will continue its support to the national team when the country play host to Kazakhstan and Iran for the fifth window of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers.
The league, according to Marcial, will take a break again to give way not just with the tournament, but to give enough time for the preparation of Team Pilipinas under coach Yeng Guiao.
“Yes, we’ll take a break. We’ll give the national team enough time to prepare,” Marcial said in Filipino.
It is not official yet, although Marcial said he is looking at a maximum of 12 days of break from the time players are allowed to practice for the national team up to the last game of the fifth window.
The national team will host Kazakhstan on Nov. 30 and Iran on Dec. 3 in a venue that has yet to be determined. A source said it’s either the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City or the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City – the venue of the closed-door match between the Philippines and Qatar.
Guiao’s squad prevailed in that encounter as they rallied to beat the Qataris 92-81 for a 5-3 record in Group F behind Australia (7-1) and Iran (6-2), and ahead of Japan (4-4), Kazakhstan (3-5) and Qatar (2-6).
The pro league, which allowed 16 players to training pool, took a break for almost two weeks during the fourth window of the FIBA qualifiers. The national team lost to Iran 81-73 in Tehran, and then won over Qatar.
Marcial said the same support as far as lending players to the national team will again be accorded to Guiao under the agreement of the PBA Board of Governors and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) led by its president Al Panlilio – the board representative of the Meralco Bolts.