by Jonas Terrado
The PBA Board of Governors gave Gilas Pilipinas the go-signal to undergo a four-day training camp in Russia as part of its preparation for the FIBA World Cup which starts Aug. 31 in China.
PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial said the Russia trip will come at the conclusion of the league’s Commissioner’s Cup which could end as early as mid-August.
The board also approved Gilas coach Yeng Guiao’s request for Monday and Thursday practices in June and July, though the schedule of daily practices in August remains up for discussion due to the Commissioner’s Cup playoffs.
Marcial, however, bared that the league will move the start of each round of the playoffs at the earliest possible time to accommodate Gilas’ preparation.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas President Al Panlilio, who is also Meralco’s Team Governor, presented Guiao’s proposal during the board meeting that lasted about three hours.
The Russia camp was one of the options presented to the SBP after its earlier request for Gilas to play in the William Jones Cup in Taiwan was shelved because of the busy PBA calendar.
Marcial and the board were also told that possible tune-up games against Australia and New Zealand appears to be unlikely due to the stacked schedule of both countries.
Gilas is hoping to finish as the highest-placed Asian nation after the World Cup in order to secure qualification to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The national cagers, however, face a tall order in Group D slated in the Chinese city of Foshan as they are bracketed alongside Serbia, Italy and Angola.