The journey to 2023 is on.
The Philippines gears up for the 2023 FIBA World Cup as early as Monday. Mainstays of the Gilas Pilipinas pool plus some of the 23-man candidates bunch held their first practice Monday at the Meralco Gym for the World Cup qualifiers which will continue next month.
“We’re focused on the World Cup qualifiers,” national team head coach Chot Reyes said in a television interview with CNN Philippines’ Sports desk the day after the first session.
The Philippines is tied with Australia as the unbeaten teams in Group B of the qualifiers together with Japan and Chinese-Taipei.
Reyes admitted that their preparations point to one destination – the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
“Everything that we’re doing now is always imbued with the thought of getting ready for 2023,” he said.
There are three names that Reyes is closely watching for Gilas’ naturalized player in the quadrennial meet that will take place in the country.
First, Isaiah Austin who served as the national squad’s reinforcement in the 2017 FIBA Asia Champions Cup where the country placed fifth.
Another name that Reyes is monitoring is Los Angeles Lakers Filipino-American guard Jordan Clarkson.
“We’re looking at Isaiah Austin, even Jordan Clarkson if he’ still very good at that time. But what we want with Clarkson is to get him as a local, not as a naturalized player, there are still efforts towards that end,” Reyes said.
Another player Reyes is considering is Filipino-German slotman Christian Standhardinger who was part of the national team that won the gold medal in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games.
But Reyes’ ultimate choice for the naturalized spot will be someone who has a towering height.
“Christian Standhardinger is always going to be there, but realistically we prefer to get somebody much taller,” he said.
“We love Christian and what he brings to the program and the team. But for 2023 we’re thinking if we are going to naturalize someone, the preference is going to be a 7-footer. These are the things we’re looking at this early, hopefully the plans materialize,” he added.
Austin, Clarkson, and Standhardinger will be 30 years old, 31 years old, and 34 years old, respectively, by the time of the FIBA World Cup