Photo from FIBA
The board agrees to suspend games a week before the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers this June- sources
As it happens, looks like Coach Chot Reyes and the rest of the national team are getting what they asked from the PBA: full cooperation.
In a decision that is yet to be officially announced, the PBA board finally agreed to suspend PBA games that will be scheduled a week before Gilas Pilipinas participates in the third window of the first round for the FIBA World Cup Asia Qualifiers that are scheduled from June 29 to July 2 of this year with Gilas facing the still unbeaten Australian team at the Philippine Arena and an away game against Chinese-Taipei.
To begin with, our national team is already assured of their spot in the second round of qualifiers which are set to start on September of this year too but in order to finish the last window of the first round, Gilas needs to win both games especially their home game against Australia whom they failed to beat the last time both teams met in Melbourne. Australia currently leads Group B with a 4-0 record followed by Gilas with 3-1.
With this development, this will now allow Gilas and its players to maximize their time together and build the best Gilas squad that will hopefully lead them to the second round of qualifiers now that the PBA has already suspended games that will be plotted a week prior to June 29 which means that all players who are tapped to represent the country will be pulled out from their respective teams to solely focus on their role in the national team.
At the very least, such decision from the PBA board will now lessen the pressure both from the national team and the PBA teams because the players won't need to juggle between the national team and their respective ballclub. This will also give the appropriate time for Gilas to have more practices prior to the competition and have the needed rest especially those who are still nursing injuries.
The PBA board's decision to suspend games prior to the FIBA World Cup qualifiers is a big decision for them but in the long run, it will still benefit the PBA because the players can retain their focus on playing for their respective teams AFTER participating in the international stage and that's better than you're playing for Gilas but your PBA team is playing.
The next step: build a Gilas squad that will bring us a step closer towards returning to the World Cup.