ON to the next.

That’s the mentality Gilas Pilipinas is embracing as it picks itself up from the disappointing conclusion of its Paris Olympics bid and steers into the long road to the 2028 Games.

“We really felt that we had a chance to win the tournament (Olympic Qualifiers in Latvia) so losing to (semifinal rival) Brazil at the end was very disappointing for all of us; shattered all of our dreams and that’s always tough,” Tim Cone said on The Big Story on One PH.

“But as I told the players, the ending of this particular tournament was bad but it’s not really the end. It’s a really good beginning for us as we continue this quest over the next four years,” he added.

Under Mr. Cone’s program, the 12-strong Gilas led by naturalized player Justin Brownlee, June Mar Fajardo, Kai Sotto and Dwight Ramos are in for the long haul.

After their strong showing in the OQT in Latvia highlighted by an 89-80 upset of the world No. 6 hosts in group play, the Nationals will reassemble in November to play a pair of home games in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers against New Zealand and Hong Kong.

Aside from the Asia Cup, they’re also booked for action in several other international competitions like the Southeast Asian Games and the Asian Games before going to battle in the 2027 FIBA World Cup and shooting for an outright passage of the 2028 Olympiad as the top Asian team there.

Mr. Cone said he’s sticking to his original program for 12 players, with occasional subs in case of injuries such as when Japeth Aguilar and Mason Amos were called to fill in for AJ Edu and Jamie Malonzo in the OQT.

“I didn’t want to get a huge pool and cut players. Also, we don’t have a long preparation time for each tournament. If we want long preparation, these players will not be available to us and if you have a big pool, you need longer preparation because you have more people to teach,” he said.

He feels the short bursts of training in every international campaign by the Gilas combo of veterans and young guns, when accumulated over time, should be enough to make Gilas fully-equipped for its second attempt at the Olympiad.

“There’s always going to be limitations. But this is the way that I see personally — and this is shared with (president) Al (Panlilio) and (executive director) Erika Dy (of the SBP) — this is the way that we can find some success and still develop the team and reach that goal of getting to the LA Olympics through the World  Cup,” he said. — Olmin Leyba