A NEW generation of basketball heroes is set to represent the Philippines in the annual William Jones Cup in Taiwan with an eye to the future. Scheduled to play nine games in nine days from July 15 to 23, the country’s participation is just the first preparatory step in the ultimate goal of playing in the world stage anew.
Leading the 17-strong roster are second generation stars Kiefer Ravena, Kobe Paras and Ray Parks plus national team cadets Jiovani Jalalon, Raymar Jose, Michael Tolomia, Ed Daquioag, Von Pessumal, Alfonzo Gotladera, Carl Bryan Cruz, Roger Pogoy, Matthew Wright, Kevin Ferrer, Almond Vosotros, Christian Standhardinger and import Mike Myers. The coach will be Chot Reyes with assistants Joseph Uichico, Josh Reyes, Jimmy Alapag and Ryn Betia and team manager Butch Antonio.
Backed generously by Chooks To Go, the Filipinos will open their campaign against Canada to be followed by Chinese-Taipei A, Chinese-Taipei B, Japan, South Korea, Iraq, Lithuania, India and Iran in that order. The team with the best record after the single round robin will be declared the champion.
“We are willing to finance a fulltime national team depending on our negotiations with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and PBA,” said Bounty Fresh Agro Ventures Chairman Ronald Mascarinas during the recent send-off party for the team. “We plan to offer the players the maximum PBA salary because they are considered the best of the best and if that materializes, we may just forgo our plans to acquire a PBA franchise.”
Last year, the Philippines represented by club team Mighty Sports ran away with the Jones Cup with a team heavily reinforced by imports. The Philippine National Team last won the tournament in 2012 against a tough United States entry.
Aside from the Jones Cup, the Nationals are set to compete in inaugural FIBA-Asia Cup in Lebanon and the Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia. After that, they will compete in the Asian qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.
The calendar thus calls for the formation of several national teams since the FIBA-Asia Cup and SEA Games will overlap. Looking further ahead, the presence of all needed players cannot be assured for the qualifiers which will be played using a home and away format.
Head coach Reyes summed it all up. “The Jones Cup is a preparatory tournament but we have one objective and it is to win, we might fall short but just by showing up we have already won half of the battle,” he said.