Champions Cup a boost for PH basketball | Inquirer Sports
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Champions Cup a boost for PH basketball

The Smart Gilas national team played some excellent basketball to whip Saudi Arabia in its opening game of the Fiba-Asia Champions Cup at the PhilSports Arena on Saturday.
However, for all the hopes we have for this team, it is obvious that the other teams—reinforced by two talented and towering imports—will be hard to beat.
Iran, in its opening game, showed why it has emerged as a dominant force in basketball with an awesome performance that even had Smart Gilas coach Rajko Toroman singing its praises.
Whatever position Smart Gilas ends up with, the one aspect that has clearly stood out is the newfound respect that the Philippines has earned in the eyes of the international governing body, the Fiba.
We witnessed the glow in the eyes and the assured smile on the face of Fiba Asian president Sheikh Saud Bin Ali Al-Thani of Qatar when he spoke of how happy he was to see the Philippines help reestablish our country’s position as a respected member of the international basketball community.
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There is no doubt that under the leadership of businessman-sportsman Manny Pangilinan as president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and with the support of his hardworking vice president Ricky Vargas and the other officials, Philippine basketball is on the right track.
We may not become the dominating power we were in the glory days of Caloy Loyzaga, the late Lauro Mumar and a host of genuine greats but at least we have earned the respect and admiration of the Asian basketball community.
A few years ago, the Philippines was the laughing stock of Asia with a bunch of discredited individuals tarnishing our  image and plunging us into the depths of utter mediocrity.
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Pangilinan, buoyed by public support, has assured us that he feels he must continue what he had embarked on by retaining the Smart Gilas national pool concept  even after some of its players move into the pro league, the PBA.
He realizes that despite the substantial cost of maintaining the Smart Gilas national team, the fruits of the effort will only be realized if there is continuity in the program. The national pool provides talented, young players a chance to step up and represent the country in the fiercely competitive international arena.
What one immediately admires about Pangilinan and those who work with him is the sense of their commitment.
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MVP believes in investing for the future, and his acquisition of ABC 5 and a large segment of airtime on IBC 13 dedicated to sports signifies his realization that for sports to grow and public support to be harnessed, television plays a crucial role.
The challenges posed by such giant networks as ABS-CBN are truly formidable but it is clear that Pangilinan is prepared to invest to build an infrastructure necessary to compete both nationally and internationally.
The public will surely benefit from the network competition, not rivalry, which somehow connotes a less than proper competitive spirit.
The age of High Definition TV is upon us as we witnessed, in a somewhat modified manner, the ABC coverage of the Champions Cup on IBC 13.
ABS-CBN has a solid headstart in their HD coverage of the collegiate leagues like the UAAP for instance.  In sports at least,  HD may well represent the high drama of the exciting times ahead of us.

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TAGS: Basketball, FIBA, Fiba Asia Champions Cup, Gilas Pilipinas, Rajko Toroman, Sports

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