The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) deferred to name the PBA players who will be included in the Gilas Pilipinas pool for the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers not until after the Philippine Cup semifinals.
SBP spokesperson Renauld ‘Sonny’ Barrios said the decision was made following a discussion with national team coach Chot Reyes and his staff, stressing it would be better to make the announcement once the pair of ongoing semifinals series is over.
The all-Filipino Cup semis is almost halfway through and features Magnolia against defending champion TNT, and top seed San Miguel opposite Meralco.
“Hindi muna natin ire-release yung pool until after the semifinals para hindi ma-distract yung mga naglalaro pa,” said Barrios on Tuesday.
But he did announce in the online Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum the names of non-PBA players included by the Gilas coaching staff in the training pool for the August 25-29 window led by naturalized player Jordan Clarkson.
Named with Clarkson are Dwight Ramos, Ray Parks Jr., Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena, Carl Tamayo, Francis Lopez, and Kevin Quiambao.
Still, majority of the pool will be coming from the PBA side especially from the 10 teams not playing in the coming best-of-seven finals.
“PBA players ang nakakarami sa pool na tinitignan. Yan ang sa ngayon ang pinag-tutuunan natin ng pansin,” said Barrios, also the SBP executive director, in the weekly Forum presented by San Miguel Corporation (SMC), MILO, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, Amelie Hotel Manila, Unilever, and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
Gilas Pilipinas will play FIBA Asia Cup runner-up Lebanon in Beirut on the 25th, and then hosts Saudi Arabia on the 29th at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Barrios added the SBP is still in talks with young big man Kai Sotto, who is set to play another season with the Adelaide 36ers in the NBL Australia.
“Gusto niyang lumaro sa Gilas, but we’re still talking to him,” said the SBP spokesperson. “Nawa’y maging positive ang sagot ng kampo ni Kai sa ating panawagan.”
With regards to the country’s co-hosting of next year’s World Cup along with Japan and Indonesia, Barrios said there will be a one-year countdown to the official opening of the biggest gathering of the world’s best basketball teams come Aug. 25.
On the 27th, the traditional Tissot Countdown Clock will be launched at the SM Mall of Asia Music Hall to be attended by no less than FIBA president Hamane Niang and FIBA World Cup executive director David Crocker.
And finally, the highlight of the five-day event is the qualifier game between Gilas Pilipinas and Saudi Arabia on the 29th featuring Clarkson playing on local soil for the first time ever as part of the national team.
The Utah Jazz guard previously suited up for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2018 Asian Games, but was held in Jakarta, Indonesia.