TAKING a break during the 2017 Southeast Asian Basketball Association (SEABA) Championship could be an option for the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) just to make sure Gilas Pilipinas will be on its full strength in the international tournament.
Facing a dilemma after the Seaba organizers moved the tournament from April 23 to 30 to May 15 to 21, the PBA has received request from the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) if it could take a break during that period so that the PBA players could suit up for the Chot Reyes-mentored squad.
“May option na itigil muna (ang PBA) but it all depends on the board,” said PBA Media Bureau Chief Willy Marcial. “We will know this month kung ano magiging decision ng board.” The PBA Board will convene at the end of this month to discuss the matter.
The new schedule poses a big problem for Reyes and the PBA, which released 12 players to the 25-man national pool for the Seaba joust.
The new Seaba schedule will conflict with the Commissioner’s Cup, which will be on its final stretch of the elimination round during that period. The old one will only affect the early stage of the elims.
The PBA players who are part of the pool, led by Gilas mainstays Jayson Castro, June Mar Fajardo and Terrence Romeo, can only join the training 15 days before the tournament as per agreement of the SBP and the pro league.
The 12 cadet players, led by Blackwater’s Mac Belo, will be pulled out from their respective mother ballclubs two months before the competition.
The Seaba organizers decided to move the schedule to allow some participating nations, particularly Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam, to finish their respective local leagues as they run smack with the old schedule.
The Philippines needs to win the Seaba tournament in order to advance to the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Asia Cup (formerly the Asian Championships). Only the champion team gets the berth for the Asia Cup, the tournament that will determine the pairings of the six-window qualifying tournament leading to the 2019 Fiba World Cup in China.
Reyes said they will form the best possible squad for the Seaba tournament as they can no longer take the other Southeast Asian nations for granted as Indonesia and Thailand are reportedly fielding a naturalized player for the tournament.
The comebacking Gilas mentor added that naturalized player Andray Blatche could also reinforce the PH 5 in the tournament, which will be hosted by the country either in Manila or Cebu.
The Philippines is a seven-time champion in the Seaba tournament.