Gilas Pilipinas has received an invitation from the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) to play as a guest team in the 46th season PhilippineCup slated to kick off this April.

/ 9 February 2021

PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial uttered that the idea of inviting the national team floated Monday in a meeting attended by the entire Board of Governors, including Meralco governor and concurrent Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio.

“The Board of Governors suggested to the SBP that Gilas should join in the first conference. If they don’t have training or if they won’t be playing anywhere, they can play in the PBA,” he said to ESPN moments after the PBA board of governors’ meeting last Monday.

Marcial also shared that the SBP will be submitting three to five names who will be joining the Gilas roster by way of the special draft to be held on March 14.

“SBP president Al said they’ll get a minimum of three and a maximum of five players for the special draft. They’ll give me the names within two to three days,” he said.

The league will follow the same order in the regular draft. Terrafirma and NorthPort will draft at No. 1 and 2, respectively, followed by NLEX with picks No. 3 and 4 and by Rain or Shine at five.

Expected to suit up alongside this year’s draftees are the 2019 special draft selections Isaac Go, Rey Suerte, Allyn Bulanadi, and brothers Matt and Mike Nieto if Gilas will grant the invite,

“Playing with us will be good since they’ll gain experience, and fans will see how the whole team competes,” said Marcial.

PBA first opened its doors in 1984-85 to the National Team, inviting the famed Northern Cement, coached by the late Ron Jacobs, who participated and won a PBA championship. The team participated in three conferences and finishing up bagging the 1985 PBA Reinforced Conference title.

Leading the team’s campaign were the likes of amateur stars Allan Caidic, Yves Dignadice, Samboy Lim, and Hector Calma, while imports Dennis Still and Jeff Moore reinforced the pool.

PBA also invited the Gilas squad mentored by Rajko Toroman in 2011.

SBP has not made a decision yet, though Marcial said the federation has until before the opening of the season to make a decision.

“There’s no commitment yet. Gilas has no plans yet. But at least we extended an invite,” he said.

“There’s no deadline, but they’ll probably have to give us an answer before April so we can sort out the schedule.”