(FROM L-R) SBP Executives: Vice chair Robbie Puno, president Al Panlilio, chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan, Foreign Affairs secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Gilas head coach Chot Reyes. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan knows that majority of the current crop of Gilas Pilipinas will no longer be available when the country hosts the 2023 Fiba World Cup.
With that reality in mind, the country’s top sports patron wants to start preparing as early as now.
“I told Chot (Reyes), this is really the end of a beginning. We have to look to form a team in 2023,” said Pangilinan, who address the public for the first time since winning the bid last Saturday. “The players that are likely to compose the team will not be Jayson Castro or the current players.”
While the Philippines’ joint hosting together with Japan and Indonesia is already a gargantuan task, Pangilinan also wants to pull all the stops so the country can field a competent squad which can take on the best players in the world.
Pangilinan dropped some names who he felt can make up the team in six years’ time. He mentioned reigning Rookie of the Year Roger Pogoy of TNT, NLEX neophyte Kiefer Ravena, as well as collegiate standouts Thirdy Ravena of Ateneo, Ricci Rivero of La Salle, Robert Bolick of San Beda, and CJ Perez of Lyceum.
“I think will be the players that will make up that team,” Pangilinan said. “These are the kids that will be in the prime of their careers by that time. We have the raw materials, but we have to train and bond properly. We know that we have six years to prepare for the tournament, so it’s good for them to develop their bonding early.”
Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes, meanwhile, knows the enormity of the task to lay out the blueprint for the future of the program.
“We will need to plan a calendar now and not wait until 2021 or 2022 to put that calendar together,” Reyes said. “This early, we should have a plan. As we develop the players, we develop as well the conditions to make the team at its strongest in 2023. As to who they are, we still have to sit down and identify players.”
By 2023, majority of current team members out of 26-to-32 age. Naturalized player Andray Blatche and lead playmaker Jayson Castro will already be 37 years old, Ginebra forward Japeth Aguilar will be 36, Alaska slasher Calvin Abueva will be 35, and four-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo will be 34.
Those who are likely to still make the cut are Terrence Romeo, Roger Pogoy, and Jio Jalalon, who all will be 31, and Kiefer Ravena and Mac Belo, who will both be 30 by then.
It’s still to early to predict the team’s makeup, though, and Pangilinan knows that six years is still a long time to build the 2023 crew and he’s giving Reyes a free rein in building the Gilas Pilipinas team of the future.
“I’m no coach. Coach Chot will have to decide on that,” Pangilinan said.