Basketball legend and current Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) commissioner Ramon “El Presidente” Fernandez said the future is bright for this youthful iteration of the Gilas Pilipinas men’s national basketball team.
Built with youth and skill in mind and given ample preparation time, the Gilas completed a clean sweep of all its games in the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers, culminating in a 3-0 romp in the third and final window that included a couple of wins against long time nemesis, South Korea.
After witnessing the cohesion with which the Gilas played, Fernandez said that the team should be allowed to continue on the path its on towards the 2023 FIBA World Cup which the country is co-hosting along with Indonesia and Japan.
“Palagay ko itong mga bata na ang ipadala natin. Not for anything else but this is thinking long term,” shared the University of San Carlos product during his appearance on the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) online forum on Tuesday.
“Yung mga bata natin pag i-expose natin sa ganung level ng competiton, siguradong mag-iimprove yan. Yung mga PBA playes naman, mag-iimprove din sana sila, but hindi kagaya ng improvement ng mga kabataang ito,” added Fernandez—a man long considered to be the greatest Filipino basketball player.
"Medyo may katigasan ang buto at muscles ng PBA players natin," Fernandez shared with a laugh.
The 67-year old added that the practice of hastily putting together the PBA’s top players and having them train for a major tournament for just a short amount of time is no longer a feasible recipe for success.
"We know for a fact and we experienced already, na mahirap kumuha ng athletes from the pro ranks to play in the national team. That's why lagi kong sinasabi noon, kaya nga nag-umpisa yung PBA because nung panahon namin, kinukuha kami ng basketball federation at that time (BAP) from our mother teams. So nadi-distract yung calendar ng MICAA (Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association) at the time," Fernandez shared.
Fernandez said it is the SBP’s job to make sure that this team remains intact in the years leading up to the FIBA World Cup in 2023.
"This is a better tact na ginawa ng SBP. Na yung kabataan natin na future basketball players para mag-improve din talaga yung quality," Fernandez said. "I'm glad that finally, these young boys are given the chance to represent the country. It's good for them, for their future, and their careers." (JNP)