Philippine Sports Commission chair Richie Garcia yesterday said the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas can form a team of its choice for the Southeast Asian Games in Burma (Myanmar) as long as it can guarantee a victory for the national five.
Garcia declared in a radio interview that “definitely, there will be a basketball team” in the biennial games that will defend the title the country holds dearly.
“We will give them the free hand but they should answer for the performance of the team,” said Garcia, who shared the stand with the Philippine Olympic Committee to field the best possible team to the SEA Games.
The Philippines is the acknowledged basketball power in Southeast Asia and has lost the cage crown in the SEA Games only in 1989 in Malaysia. Such is the stature of the country in the sport that the old Basketball Association of the Philippines, and now the SBP, has found no need to send pro cagers to the biennial meet.
But Garcia has insisted on fielding the all-pro Gilas five to the SEA Games this time in place of the group of crack amateurs and collegiate standouts the SBP was expected to tap for Burma.
SBP treasurer Dr. Ernest Jay Adalem later said that sending Gilas was “an overkill,” and that even a selection from the NAASCU (National Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities) league where he is the chair will be enough for the country to retain the basketball gold.