As you read this, Germany have just beaten Serbia in the final of the 2023 FIBA World Cup. Yet even with that, the Philippines has for some time shifted its focus to the postponed 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, which is scheduled to begin in around two weeks.

After their breakthrough win over China, the talk surrounding Gilas Pilipinas immediately turned towards all things Asian Games. You can’t blame the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) for doing so, since the gap between tournaments is quite small. Besides, a number of uncertainties needed to be addressed, the first of which was the head coach. 

Tim Cone had previously mentioned that he did not want to take the head coaching job. But after some prodding from the San Miguel Corporation and reportedly checking in with former head coach Reyes, Cone accepted the job to coach the Philippines at least for the Asian Games.

For Cone, this may be one of his tougher assignments, as he only has weeks to prepare and won’t have all the resources at his disposal. Nevertheless, he’s not one to make excuses and knowing him, the winningest coach in the PBA has already begun his work.

Cone’s brief stint already had invited some controversy early on, as he was asked on the availability of Justine Baltazar, a former member of Gilas who is arguably the most talented amatuer available. Unfortunately, his status is a great unknown, given the pointing of fingers between Baltazar’s camp and the SBP.

Unfortunately, Cone’s words nearly set up a firestorm, but he took care of things before it could get out of control.

Speaking of players, the Asian Games are not a FIBA-sanctioned event and so Gilas Pilipinas can only rely on the one league that has adjusted to the Asian Games: the PBA.

The likes of June Mar Fajardo, Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar, RR Pogoy, Calvin Oftana, and Chris Newsome will likely be part of the Asian Games roster, but their roles varied and in Newsome’s case he was largely on the sidelines. Although their familiarity and training over the last few months should help, their practices beginning this Monday will be more important. 

Reports are also surfacing that the SBP is asking the B.League and KBL if they could lend out the players for the Philippines’ stint in the Asian Games. Although it may be better to save this favor for bigger things such as the qualifying tournaments for the Olympics and major FIBA international tournaments.

The expectations for Cone and the rest of Gilas, who are slotted in Group C with Bahrain, Jordan, and Thailand, are at this point, anyone’s guess and maybe there shouldn’t be any.

The Asian Games happen every four years and its infrequency, coupled with it not being under FIBA makes its basketball tournament not as appealing as it used to be. FIBA’s other regional tournaments have gathered more traction and even the qualifying windows have something to play for.

Given the current circumstances, it may be better for Gilas Pilipinas to take on a developmental approach. Fajardo and company can still lead the Philippines, but it would be wise for Cone and SBP to bring in younger players like Arvin Tolentino and Aaron Black. 

It’s unfortunate that Jamie Malonzo and Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser will be unable to play due to injuries, but this should open doors for their peers to make their presence felt on the international stage.

2023 may very well prove that basketball is a year-long event. With many still having 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup hangover, the Philippines looked towards the postponed 2022 Asian Games, which at this point is more nostalgia than prestige.

Gilas Pilipinas, though, can still use this tournament to their benefit, more so for the long-term, as younger players would stand to benefit from playing in a tournament where there are still expectations, regardless if they are warranted or not.