Photo from PBA

If returning Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes would have his way, he prefers to put less emphasis on having PBA players beyond the upcoming February window of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers.

Reyes made this point while being in the early stages of the qualifiers that will have a mixture of players from his TNT Tropang Giga squad and remaining members of the Gilas pool.

Following the matches against South Korea, India and New Zealand later this month at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, Reyes is hoping that a similar setup won’t be done out of necessity.

“There is absolutely no plan to have PBA players in the windows. I don’t know where people got that idea,” Reyes said in the program Power and Play hosted by former commissioner Noli Eala.

“It’s only for this window because of the urgency of the situation that we are calling up the TNT players to augment the current Gilas lineup because there are very few of them. Pag hindi tayo nagsama ng TNT players dito, madedefault tayo sa window sa February.

“But other than that, the plan is just to continue to develop, to prepare a team for 2023,” he added.

Brought back following Tab Baldwin’s decision to step down, Reyes was left with a handful of players who can be available for the first window, with several players based overseas and a few members opting to be released from their contracts as Gilas pool members.

University of the Philippines’ Carl Tamayo and La Salle’s Justin Baltazar have been ruled out of the first window since they’ll be focused on preparations for their respective teams in the UAAP.

That prompted Reyes to suggest adding TNT players in order to speed up cohesion with the rest of the Gilas pool.

Despite being part of the Japan exodus, Dwight Ramos flew back to join the preparation in the TNT/Gilas training bubble in Lipa City along with naturalized player Ange Kouame, Will Navarro, Tzaddy Rangel and Jaydee Tungcab.

Also part of the training is Juan Gomez de Liano, who became available after he was recently released by B.League second division club Earthfriends Tokyo Z.

Reyes, however, is not ruling out the involvement of PBA players following the February games, which he and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio will discuss in the future.

Panlilio said there is a likelihood of having a “handful or about 2-3 PBA players” as part of the qualifying windows.

“If that will involve some PBA players, we don’t know, it will depend on who is available,” Reyes said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (