JAKARTA — Members of the gold-medal seeking Sinag Pilipinas squad competing in the 26th Southeast Asian Games are strong candidates to become part of the next wave of the SMART-Gilas national program alongside select PBA players.
Sinag team manager and SMART-Gilas operations head Butch Antonio told InterAKTV in an exclusive interview that Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas officials have begun discussions about the composition of the next national team.
“Ideally, we initially agreed on 15 players from the amateur ranks and 15 players from the PBA,” Antonio said. “Most of the candidates naman ng SMART-Gilas 2 will come from the Sinag team. Their performance in the SEA Games will be evaluated as well.”
The pool will also include players from the PBA. Last month, the league’s commissioner Chito Salud asked the SBP to draw a list of players it wished to be part of the pool, and had earlier committed up to 16 PBA players.
Salud and PBA chairman Mamerto Mondragon, however, clarified that PBA players will only see action in the FIBA Asia Championship, the qualifying event for the Olympics and the world championships.
Among players who are performing well for the Sinag Pilipinas squad are UAAP standouts Kiefer Ravena, Ray Parks, RR Garcia and Greg Slaughter, Fil-American D-League players Cliff Hodge and Chris Ellis, NCAA star Garvo Lanete, and SMART-Gilas team captain Chris Tiu.
The SBP has yet to give its wish list of PBA players as executive director Sonny Barrios left for Geneva, Switzerland to attend a special FIBA function.
But having cited the need for continuity in the program, the SBP is likely to request for the services of some of the members of the first batch of SMART-Gilas players who are now playing in the PBA, who include Chris Lutz, J-Vee Casio, Marcio Lassiter, Mac Baracael, Dylan Ababou, Mark Barroca, Jason Ballesteros, and Japeth Aguilar. The SBP is also expected to name some of the league’s resident stars to join the pool.