SBP sets Gilas Asiad pullout

MARC Pingris and other members of Gilas Pilipinas take a group selfie at the height of the brawl that broke out during the third window of their FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifier game against Australia late Monday at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. ROMAN PROSPERO

With possible suspensions looming, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is expected to raise “moral ground” in serious consideration of a Gilas team withdrawal from the 18th Asian Games to fire off next month in Indonesia.

The SBP is anticipating the revelation of sanctions by the International Basketball Association against the Philippines and Australia on Saturday following the brawl that marred their third window qualifying match for the FIBA World Cup in Bulacan last week.

Other sources, however, said Basketball Australia had asked for an extension as it plans to present evidence and submit statements on Friday. The FIBA could move the announcement of its verdict to a later date if it accepts Basketball Australia’s plea.

But an unimpeachable SBP source yesterday said the federation is set to take the “moral ground” of skipping the Asian Games as five of the 12 players are expected to be slapped with lengthy suspensions for taking part in the melee.

Gilas core faces sanctions

Naturalized player Andray Blatche, Jason Castro, Terrence Romeo, Troy Rosario and Roger Pogoy were all ejected from that game, together with Japeth Aguilar, Calvin Abueva, Carl Bryan Cruz and Matthew Wright.

The Aussies crushed Gilas Pilipinas, 89-53, in that shortened game which left only three Filipino players on court against a full Australian lineup.

Blatche, Castro, Romeo, Rosario and Pogoy are parts of Gilas Pilipinas in the Asian Games together with seven other players from Talk ‘N Text in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).

The source said they are expecting hefty penalties from the world basketball’s governing body.

Withdrawing the team from the Asian Games, the source said, would avoid another disastrous finish in Asia’s most prestigious athletic conclave.

“We are to take the moral ground, so we might pull out our (men’s basketball) team in the Asian Games. That’s an option,” said the Daily Tribune source who asked not to be named.

He said he is not allowed to divulge crucial information on the ongoing FIBA’s investigation.

PBA conflict

Replacing the five stalwarts in the squad headed for the Asian Games would not be easy, the Daily Tribune source revealed.

Aside from the training and preparation, the PBA and its member teams are also unlikely to lend players, especially with the Commissioner’s Cup entering its crucial stretch.

The league had revised its calendar to give way for Gilas Pilipinas’ participation in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifying which is set to unveil its fourth window by September.

The Indonesia Asian Games Organizing Committee has also made clear that the lineup submitted last June 30 should be final. If there would be some changes due to technical or medical reasons, the federation must pick its players from the pool it submitted.

The Asian Games is set to roll on August 18 and coming up with a strong, fighting team that is capable of surpassing Gilas Pilipinas’ seventh-place finish in 2014 would be a challenge.

In a previous statement, SBP deputy executive director Butch Antonio admitted the SBP has yet to sit down with PBA commissioner Willie Marcial to discuss the possible substitutions for Blatche, Castro, Romeo, Rosario and Pogoy should FIBA slap them with lengthy suspensions.

Antonio said they are still waiting for FIBA and its verdict would be very crucial to the SBP action.

“No alternatives yet. No possible replacements. It’s still wait-and-see,” Antonio said.