Gilas Pilipinas teams will not be tapping PBA players that will be competing in the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers and the FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament (OQT) set later this year.

/ 10 March 2021

PBA chairman Ricky Vargas confirmed the details on Tuesday that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) will not include PBA players in the pool but instead compromise on players who were picked in the special draft in 2019 and this March—an all-Gilas cadets team.

‘Yung FIBA window, all-Gilas (cadet) team ‘yun. The PBA will not be asked to contribute any players, other than those we have contributed already during the draft this year, and the previous draft,” Vargas told in a press briefing after the league’s two-day planning session.

“In the Olympic qualifying tournament, ganoon din po. It will be an all-Gilas (cadets) team,” he continued.

Meanwhile, SBP president Al Panlilio discussed that the emerging conflict between the FIBA and PBA calendars had resulted in the SBP’s decision to exclude PBA players.

The 46th season of the PBA is set to begin on April 11 while the final window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers was rescheduled in the second week of June and the FIBA OQT is set to tip-off on June 28 to July 4 in Serbia.

“The Fiba Asia Cup window should happen roughly in the second week of June, and the OQT in Serbia is already dated June 29 to July 4. It will be difficult for us to join the tournament,” Panlilio said.

“If you look at it if we want to train as early as this month and the PBA will start its conference this season in April and this will go all the way to July 4 the last day of the OQT, it will completely descale the calendar of the PBA,” he added.

With this, Gilas is still composed of the five players they enlisted in the 2019 Rookie Draft that includes Isaac Go, Matt and Mike Nieto, Rey Suerte, and Allyn Bulanadi.

They will later be added by four other players who are called by the federation in Sunday’s draft composed of Tzaddy Rangel, Jordan Heading, JD Tungcab, and William Navarro.

Panlilio also mentioned the names of Kai Sotto and naturalization candidate Ange Kouame as possible inclusions for the squad.

Also, he mentioned calling college athletes to join the pool for a training camp.

“I think we have time to put up a plan of an entirely non-PBA team using the five that we already drafted last year and the four this year. That’s nine. And if you put the name of Ange Koaume there, potentially also Kai Sotto and some of the college players which we will be working on with the schools, I think we can come up with 20 if not 25 names that can enter the bubble as early as the end of the month to start the training,” Panlilio averred.

Meanwhile, the SBP and the PBA league are still in talks of the possibility of conducting a pocket tournament featuring Gilas, one other national team, and two PBA teams.

Moreover, the league has agreed on letting the national team play in the upcoming season as a guest team but will have no bearing on its standings. 

“I’d like to repeat the appreciation of SBP to the PBA for helping our programs,” Panlilio ended.