MANILA, Philippines — SBP president Al Panlilio attended the Gilas training pool’s first practice at the Meralco Gym last Wednesday and spoke to the players about the goal of qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics through the FIBA World Cup. If the Philippines winds up the highest-finishing Asian country in the 32-nation conclave, it will automatically clinch a ticket to the Olympics.

“I told the guys my wish is to win two games (in the first round) and move to the next round,” said Panlilio. “I reminded them that if we’re the top Asian country at the end of the tournament, we go to the Olympics. I wished them all the best and good luck for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to represent the country in the World Cup we are hosting. It’s not only the flag that they carry on their chest but the names on their backs. Everyone will remember them for representing the country.”

Panlilio said it’s an opportunity to make the country proud. “The SBP Local Organizing Committee is working closely with FIBA to host a memorable and historic World Cup, hoping for a record attendance of over 50,000 at the Philippine Arena on opening day,” he said. “Coach Tim (Cone) told me this extraordinary opportunity is bigger for him even as an assistant coach than any of his coaching experiences.”

Gilas head coach Chot Reyes echoed Panlilio’s sentiment that the goal is to reach the second round in the World Cup. “We want to be the best finishing Asian team so we qualify for the Olympics,” he reiterated. “Can we do it? Nobody can tell but we’ll die trying. No team will try harder than us.” Reyes said there are no shoo-ins to make the final 12 from the pool of 21. “I can’t promise a roster spot,” he added. “Nobody has a lock on any position. The first thing everyone in the pool must decide is are you willing to go through the process knowing there are no shoo-ins? It was a very honest, down-to-the-point discussion with the guys. What I assured them is if you go through the entire process, you’ll come out better players.”

At the first practice, 14 players showed up but six were still in the process of recovering from injuries or illness. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t put in a full practice with only eight able-bodied players so we just did some talking, finalizing plans and schedules and getting a lot of administrative stuff done,” said Reyes. “We’ll resume practice on Monday then go to Inspire on Friday, stay until Tuesday, take a day off on Wednesday then leave for Estonia on June 22.” The players who reported for the first practice were Scottie Thompson, June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, CJ Perez, RR Pogoy, Poy Erram, Chris Newsome, Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena, Bobby Ray Parks, Carl Tamayo, Rhenz Abando, Ange Kouame and AJ Edu.

2023-06-08T16:32:11Z dg43tfdfdgfd