TEAM USA always brings a stellar cast of NBA players in the Olympics even if winning the gold medal is almost a sure thing.
Why can’t the Philippines do the same with the Gilas team in the Southeast Asian Games?
Philippine Sports Commission chair Richie Garcia issued this challenge to basketball officials yesterday, several days after the Philippine Basketball Association declined to send its best players to the Burma (Myanmar) Southeast Asian Games in December.
“The United States sends no less than an NBA selection to the Olympics,” said Garcia. “They will not accept a second team or any other team to the Olympics.
“The SEA Games is basically our Olympics. This is one tournament that we are No. 1 in the sport.”
PBA commissioner Chito Salud said the pro league would be in the middle of the Philippine Cup conference during the Dec. 11 to 22 tournament in Naypyidaw and offered instead to support the formation of a younger national team.
“In the Asian Games, we need to beat China and Iran,” said Garcia. “As for the Olympics, we cannot even qualify. Hopefully one day we will.”
The Philippines has won the basketball gold in every edition of the biennial regional Games since 1977, except in 1989 in Kuala Lumpur, where it placed second to the host nation.
A core team of college and amateur standouts is usually fielded in the SEA Games and still gets the job done.
“What’s the difference if we send the best team (to the SEA Games)? What’s the difference if we want to be sure?” said Garcia. “We’re applying a criteria to other sports that they have to send their best athletes. We’re not going to change the criteria for basketball.
Garcia added: “I’m just putting this as a challenge to the (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas). If sending PBA players isn’t possible, that’s beyond me. They (SBP officials) will be accountable for the performance of the team anyway.”
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas forms the national team with the PBA lending its best players to Gilas Pilipinas.