On Friday afternoon, Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes sent out a tweet announcing the resumption of Gilas practice on June 20. He also named the players invited to the practice. These include Gilas Cadets Jio Jalalon, Mike Tolomia, Almond Vosotros, Ed Daquioag, RR Pogoy, Matthew Wright, Von Pessumal, Kevin Ferrer, Carl Bryan Cruz, Mac Belo and Alfonso Gotladera plus four new faces in Kiefer Ravena, Kobe Paras, Raymar Jose and Fil-German player Christian Standhardinger.
Two questions linger in the minds of many fans right now, namely 1. How come there aren’t any PBA veterans? and 2. What competition will this pool join?
To answer these questions, it’s important to revisit the memorandum of agreement forged by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) and the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) late last year with regard to the formation of the national pool. To refresh everyone’s memory, under that MOA, the PBA veterans may only be released from their mother teams no sooner than 15 days before the start of a major competition, whereas the Cadets can be released up to 60 days prior.
Now, there are three tournaments on the horizon for Gilas: the William Jones Cup in Taipei which will run from July 15 to 23, the FIBA Asia Cup in Beirut which takes place from August 8 to 20, and the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur which is scheduled for August 18 to 31.
There is no doubt that the Philippines will join the FIBA Asia Cup and the men’s basketball competition of the SEA Games. Last Tuesday, Coach Chot already confirmed the country’s participation in the Jones Cup via Twitter, so we’re also forming a team for that.
Of these three competitions, a source from Gilas told sports5.ph that it is only the FIBA Asia Cup that is considered a major competition by both the SBP and the PBA. This means that the PBA veterans can only start practicing for Gilas on July 24, or a day after the Jones Cup ends. Hence, there’s no way the vets can go to Taipei.
Which brings us to question no. 2. With the PBA veterans only available starting July 24, it’s now practically a sure thing that this new Gilas pool will represent the country in the Jones Cup. But to what end? Well, since the FIBA Asia Cup and the SEA Games will overlap by a few days, the PBA veterans who will see action in Beirut can be all but ruled out for Kuala Lumpur. And even if the SEAG basketball competition starts after August 20, it would be unreasonable to ask the PBA vets to fly to Kuala Lumpur straight from Beirut and play for three straight weeks. Which means that the task of defending our SEA Games basketball crown will fall in the hands of the Jones Cup team.
Actually, a third question could be asked: Where the heck is Bobby Ray Parks? Surely Gilas could use the versatile swingman in both the Jones Cup and the SEA Games. The source said that Parks hasn’t reached out yet to Gilas management to specifically state his intention of donning the national colors again, something that Ravena, Paras, Jose and Standhardinger reportedly did. But if he does, we’re pretty sure he’d be welcomed with open arms.