AFTER a long period of silence following the Philippine Olympic Committee elections in November last year, Go Teng Kok’s mobile phone came to life again.
“Who will be my successor in Patafa (Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association)?” Mr. Go texted us more than a week ago. “Can you endorse to me the name of one honest person?”
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I momentarily considered if he was really serious in stepping down as Patafa president, a post he has held for more than 20 years.
Should I take him seriously after his mysterious last-minute withdrawal from the last POC election? I decided not to waste my time.
Besides, it will be extremely difficult to find an honest person to endorse for the position, don’t you think?
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If he had a say on the selection of Philippine team members, PBA legend Bogs Adornado would recommend Greg Slaughter and Jun Mar Fajardo for inclusion in the squad that will compete in the 27th Fiba Asia Championship here in August.
Slaughter and Fajardo are perhaps the tallest Filipino cagers today.
A product of Norman Black’s “five-peat” champion Ateneo team, the 7-foot Slaughter now wears the NLEX jersey in the PBA D-League, while the 6-10 Fajardo plays his rookie season for Petron Blaze.
“If only on the basis of their extraordinary height (for a Filipino), I believe these two should be considered,” said Bogs, a member of the 1973 champion ABC (now Fiba Asia) team. “They may lack international experience, but they have the skills that can be further developed.”
Bogs recalled that before Abet Guidaben’s very first international stint, the national coach was hesitant to take him in because he was untested.
“But since Abet, at 6-5, was the tallest cager we had at that time, the coach was prompted to include him in the lineup,” said Bogs. “Abet turned out to be outstanding, worthy of his place in the national team.”
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Bogs believes that the key to the country’s victory in 1973, apart from the homecourt edge, was the team’s meticulous preparation and strong lineup.
“The Philippine team has never been as prepared as the one in 1973,” Bogs said. “I guess that was the magic formula. The team had the best players and the best preparation. We can do it again.”
Fiba Asia secretary general Hagop Khajirian, who is visiting Manila to inspect the venue, fully agrees with Bogs.
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“Do you think we can do it again?” I asked Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas consultant Moying Martelino after the news conference with Hagop on Monday at MOA Arena.
Moying, the former ABC secretary general in the 1970s, echoed Bogs and Khajirian.
“Yes, we can do it if we field in our best players, and have ample time to prepare,” said Moying. “We have the homecourt advantage.”