Summit eyed anew as SBP readies for key tournaments

PBA chair Ricky Vargas.–MARLO CUETO/

MANILA, Philippines–The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) on Monday called for another sit-down among the sport’s stakeholders as it gears for a bevy of international tournaments, including the country’s one last chance to qualify for the Paris Olympics.

“Maybe we should call for a summit where the PBA, the (University Athletic Association of the Philippines), and the (National Collegiate Athletic Association) are all there,” PBA chair Ricky Vargas said during a press briefing held in the league’s headquarters in Libis, Quezon City.

“The first thing we have to decide on is [aligning] our calendars to be able to make players available. That’s important, making sure they’re available for the country,” he went on.

The Philippines, fresh off winning its first Asian Games basketball gold after 61 years, is hoping to carry the momentum of that victory into the next international tournaments.

Among those meets are the Fiba World Cup Qualifying windows and the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

The windows, scattered over the course of multiple years, will begin as early as Feb. 19 next year, while the OQT, the final pathway to the Olympics that will be held in the glitzy French capital, will start on July 2.

Tim Cone, the PBA’s winningest coach, was tapped as a stop-gap measure in the wake of Chot Reyes’ exit and a dismal Fiba World Cup campaign. He has since said that he is calling the shots on an interim basis, and that should be one of the things that would be resolved should a summit among top leagues and figureheads push through.

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, the national federation, called for a summit a year before the Fiba World Cup. That meeting resulted in an adjustment of the pro and varsity league’s schedules to allow Reyes and his training squad to hold camps in Estonia, and Lithuania and play in a pocket tournament in China before plunging into the global showcase.

Alfrancis Chua, the Barangay Ginebra governor and San Miguel Corp. sports director who served as Gilas’ team manager in the Asian Games, said that the likelihood of the Gin Kings mentor calling the shots for Gilas in the upcoming tournaments is up in the air.

“Actually, we just convinced him to do this, right?” Chua said. “If he’s going to coach the national team once again, it all depends on the schedules. You have to understand, the guy can’t be coaching this and then coach in the PBA, (too). We’ll have a season in the PBA and then we’ll (have a tournament like) this, where are you going to insert the practices? That’s the main point. And that’s why, again, the chairman’s right, we have to have a summit to know the schedules.”

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