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Gilas Pilipinas Invited to Play in PBA Philippine Cup

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The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) has extended an invite for Gilas Pilipinas to participate as guest team in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup slated to open this April.

PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial said the suggestion was raised during a meeting attended by PBA Board of Governors, including Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio, who also serve as team governor for Meralco Bolts.

“The Board of Governors suggested to the SBP that Gilas should join in the first conference. If they don’t have training or if they won’t be playing anywhere, they can play in the PBA,” Marcial said.

“Playing with us will be good since they’ll gain experience, and fans will see how the whole team competes,” added the PBA Commissioner.

Marcial further said that, while the national men’s basketball team were participating in the All-Filipino conference as a guest team, they can also compete for the championship.

The Gilas team will be bannered by the five players selected during the 2019 Gilas special draft in George Isaac Go, Nieto twins Matt and Mike, Allyn Bulanadi, and Rey Suerte.

Also joining the five were the rookies that will be taken in another special round in this year’s draft proceedings to be held in a virtual setting on March 14.

Among those expected to be taken in this year’s Gilas draft are former NCAA MVP Calvin Oftana, William Navarro, and Jaydee Tungcab, all of which played in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers’ November window in Bahrain.

Northern Cement, coached by the late Ron Jacobs, is so far the only amateur team to compete for — and win — a PBA title. The team played in three conferences and ended up bagging the 1985 PBA Reinforced Conference title.

“There’s no commitment yet. Gilas has no plans yet. But at least we extended an invite,” Marcial said. “There’s no deadline, but they’ll probably have to give us an answer before April so we can sort out the schedule.”