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Gilas targets US, Euro camps leading to main event

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Gilas Pilipinas. Photo by Fiba

The national cage program has been making big strides of late, and naturally, its leaders are hoping to make greater ones—especially with the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) World Cup drawing closer.

Just weeks removed from a breakthrough sweep of an Asian Qualifying window, and days after Justin Brownlee’s naturalization bid hurdled the House of Representatives, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio unveiled several plans that should augur well for the National Five.

Panlilio on Tuesday said the SBP is looking to send Gilas Pilipinas to training camps overseas—one in the United States and another in Europe—in preparation for the massive August showcase that will have the Filipinos playing against the best on the planet.

“[The players] start getting together by May,” he told reporters at Novotel Manila in Quezon City, shortly after the launching of the World Cup’s Volunteer Program, which seeks to tap 500 Filipinos to assist in the buildup as early as February.

“Most probably, there’ll be a camp in the [United States] which Jordan [Clarkson] can attend. Two international stints they can attend—maybe one in Europe and one in the US,” he added.

Panlilio also revealed that the SBP is looking to revisit the predicament of national coach Chot Reyes, who has been juggling Gilas duties with club commitments in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).

“That’s something we need to address, I think. It’s also unfair both to him, the national team and even TNT. I’m the president of [mother company PLDT], so it’s something that I think we should address with the governor of [the Tropang Giga] and [chair] of the [PBA] Ricky Vargas. We will also have consultations with [chair emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan] as to how to move forward,” he said.

Too much on plate

“It’s a jampacked calendar next year, and to your point—even beyond the World Cup, [we have] the Asian Games,” Panlilio went on. “So, technically, Chot will be up to his head the whole year—and that’s only for the national program alone.”

The developments afford some sort of clarity as to how the cage leaders are planning to navigate the days leading to the World Cup. Before Tuesday, the only known plan is to have Brownlee backstop the squad in the sixth and final window of the Asian Qualifiers, which will be held at the cavernous Philippine Arena in Bulacan province.

The plan to send Gilas to overseas camps mirrors the preparations of the 2014 edition of the National Five, which ate, trained and played together in France, Estonia and the United States before plunging into action in Seville in Spain.

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