PBA frees calendar for Gilas

PBA frees calendar for Gilas

Australia (5-1), the Philippines (4-2) and Japan (2-4) advanced to the second round after three home-and-away windows in the first round. File

MANILA, Philippines — PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said yesterday the pro league will suspend games in the Governors Cup on Sept. 7-17 for Gilas to prepare for the second round of the FIBA Asia/Pacific World Cup qualifiers and reiterated full support for the national team while awaiting the decision from FIBA on sanctions to be meted out in the wake of the recent Australia brawl at the Philippine Arena.

Australia (5-1), the Philippines (4-2) and Japan (2-4) advanced to the second round after three home-and-away windows in the first round. Struck out from Group B was Chinese-Taipei (2-4). The second round will involve three more home-and-away windows after which the top three finishers in each division plus the next best team in either division book tickets to the World Cup. The seven Asia/Pacific qualifiers exclude China which has an automatic slot as host.

The second round will pit the Philippines against Iran in Tehran on Sept. 13 and Qatar at home on Sept. 17 in the fourth overall window. Then it will be the Philippines against Kazakhstan on Nov. 30 and Iran on Dec. 3, both at home. In the sixth window, the Philippines plays Qatar on Feb. 21 and Kazakhstan on Feb. 24, both on the road. Iran (5-1), Kazakhstan (3-3), Qatar (2-4) and Iraq (2-4) were in Group D. Iraq was eliminated by virtue of its 84-79 loss to Qatar in overtime.

Gilas head coach Chot Reyes will submit a pool of up to 24 players for the second round and will trim it down to the final 12 during the team managers’ meeting the day before each game of the next window. He had previously sent in a pool of 22 to FIBA for the third window and from the list were chosen the final 12 that played against Chinese-Taipei and Australia. It’s still not certain which players will be available for the fourth window. Nine Gilas and four Australian players were ejected for a bench-clearing brawl that marred the Philippine Arena game last Monday. FIBA has asked the SBP and the Australian federations to submit an incident report with videos on or before July10 in the exercise of due process. After reviewing the report, FIBA will announce its decision on penalties and sanctions.

Marcial said he was informed that the Australian pro league NBL will suspend the four Boomers who were ejected. They were Nathan Sobey, Daniel Kickert, Chris Goulding and Thon Maker. “If the PBA players are suspended by FIBA, we will appeal not to carry over the suspension to the PBA which is the main source of their livelihood,” said Marcial.

Marcial said the PBA is open to whomever Reyes will pick for the Gilas pool. He added that players chosen by Reyes must agree to join Gilas without reservations. “We are one with FIBA and the SBP in upholding the rules and values of the game and we hope we all learn from this experience to ensure that it never happens again,” he said. “We look forward to continue playing in the FIBA Asia/Pacific World Cup qualifiers with utmost respect to FIBA, the participating teams and supervising officials.”