Gilas still needs PBA players for 2023 World Cup, says Guiao

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 12 2020 12:55 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- Yeng Guiao doubts that the young players from the national team pool will make it to the Gilas Pilipinas line-up for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, as he believes that the squad still needs players from the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).

Guiao, who included PBA rookies CJ Perez and Robert Bolick to his World Cup team last year, said that the younger players can compete in qualifying windows or even in the Southeast Asian Games.

"At certain levels, maybe you can use the younger players," Guiao said during an online coaching seminar.

The World Cup -- or even the Asian Games -- is another matter entirely, the NLEX coach noted.

"If you're really serious about winning and the level of play is really at least Asian level, I think you should send your best teams and not just the younger teams or the younger players," said Guiao.

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is beginning its build-up for the 2023 FIBA World Cup by putting together a pool of young players, starting with a "special draft" last year. 

Isaac Go, Matt Nieto, Mike Nieto, Allyn Bulanadi, and Rey Suerte were all loaned to the national team by their mother teams. SBP later added Thirdy Ravena and Jaydee Tungcab to the list, and they were later joined by brothers Juan and Javi Gomez de Liano, Dwight Ramos, Justine Baltazar, and Dave Ildefonso ahead of the first window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in February.

The team was successful in its first game, beating Indonesia, 100-70, in a qualifying game.

Guiao believes, however, that the 2023 national team for the World Cup will still be composed of PBA players.

"That 2023 team, most of them are already playing in the PBA right now. So that team is going to be composed of the players who are playing already in the PBA right now," said Guiao.

"The rookies that we have today, let's say those just coming off the Draft… They'll be lucky if one or two of them make that 2023 national team," he added.

Guiao did say that young centers AJ Edu and Kai Sotto should be included in the squad, but most of the other slots will likely go to PBA veterans.

"I don't think these are the rookies that we drafted, or the rookies that we will draft this year… They'll be just too young and too raw to be playing in the 2023 World Cup," he explained.

"Maturity is going to come into question. Can they mature in one or two years?" he added.

The NLEX coach made it clear that he has a high opinion of the PBA rookies and those who are part of the national team pool at the moment. For him, however, it is simply a question of their readiness to play at the highest level of basketball. 

"Ang dami mo pang dadaanan before you can say that these players are going to be capable of playing at the world level or maybe even at the Asian level," Guiao said. "As good as they are, I don't think they'll be ready for the 2023 World Cup."

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