Unity needed for Asian basketball success

AS I watched all the basketball games of Gilas Pilipinas in the recently concluded Fiba Asia 2015 championship, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel when our very own Gilas will once again reign supreme in Asian basketball. Yes, we faltered in the championship game against China, which relegated us to earn the silver medal, but I don’t consider it a setback but rather a challenge to improve further.

The silver medal finish by Gilas is already an outstanding achievement that made us proud despite the various factors happening in our home turf, which led to the formation of an undermanned Go;as due to the unavailability of other players.

Let us not forget that Gilas only prepared for two months prior to the Fiba Asia Championships, while China practiced for seven months and toured around the world en route to their gold medal finish, which earned them an automatic spot in 2016 Rio Olympic.

There may also be other psychological factors, which in one way or another affected the focus of Gilas players and coaches that could have contributed to the loss of Gilas in the championship game--measly calls, obvious non-calls by the Fiba referees, late arrival of the bus for the game, and the fixing of the net of the Philippines side during warm up. Fiba should take up measures in order to preserve the integrity of the games especially that China will host the 2019 World Cup.

Nevertheless, the poor free throw shooting and missed open shots and lay ups by Gilas also led to its loss in the championship game. At the very least, it can never be denied that the world of social media showed angry and disgusted basketball fans due to the unfair officiating during the championship game, including NBA Star Kobe Bryant.

I, myself have already observed the obviously non-calls as early as the knock out stages against Lebanon and the semifinals against Japan, where Gilas was slapped with huge disparities in free throw attempts and foul calls during the entire game. Who could forget the knock out quarterfinals game against Lebanon? When Chinese hostile fans rooted for the former in the fervent hope that Lebanon will advance to the semifinals against Japan so that China will have a lighter road in winning the gold?

In other words, China knew that Gilas was the only team that can beat them in the championship. Thus, the only barometer now for Gilas to regain its supremacy in the Asian region is China and no other else after beating erstwhile perennial power Iran in convincing fashion during the preliminary stage and other Asian countries consistently.

It’s now about time for SBP, PBA, team owners and even the government to have a united stand against China, not just Spratly Islands’ conflict as we already considered basketball as a religion in our country. As an avid basketball fan, some measures should also be done by SBP and PBA, including a long preparation for the national pool--as what China--did by forming young talents from the NCAA/UAAP to be sent to international competitions. On the part of the team owners, they should now lend their players to Gilas who are selected to play.

Meanwhile, it will be better if our government will actively participate by passing a law that makes the participation of every player in Gilas national pool mandatory and even in other national pools, providing incentives and guarantee the contracts of the players in case of injuries in playing for international competitions.

In this case, except for injuries, there will be no other excuses to the selected players and team owners in allowing the players to play for Gilas. It’s undeniable that MVP made an excellent job in bringing back the brand of Philippine basketball in the map.

However, having private corporations as main sponsors in the cause of the national team and without connections with any PBA Team will be better, to do away with basketball politics and conflict in business interests and accolades.

In so far as young talents are concerned, we have NBA Player Jordan Clarkson, future NBA stand outs, Bobby “Ray” Parks, Jr. and Kobe Paras, Andray Blatche, and various amateur stand outs in the Philippine NCAA, UAAP and US NCAA as the core in playing in international competitions as Team B.

Then, we can mix it up with a Team A of PBA veterans Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo, June Mar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, Jeff Chan, Gabe Norwood, Ranidel De Ocampo, Marc Pingris, Calvin Abueva, Paul Lee and Marcio Lassiter during the World Cup and Olympic qualifying tournaments.

Arguably, these PBA players are already experienced at the international level and can easily adjust in international game plays, albeit they still need ample time to mix up in the qualifying tournaments for the Olympics and the World Cup.

My Gilas Final 12 line up will be composed of Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo and Bobby “Ray” Parks, Jr. as point guards; Jordan Clarkson and Marcio Lassiter as shooting guards; Gabe Norwood, Japeth Aguilar and Kobe Paras as small forwards; Ranidel De Ocampo and Andray Blatche as power forwards; June Mar Fajardo and Greg Slaughter as centers. Reserves are Paul Lee, Jeff Chan, Marc Pingris, Calvin Abueva and various amateur NCAA/UAAP stand outs.

While it may be better for Gilas to opt out in the Olympic qualifying tournament in lieu of the long term preparation for the FIBA ASIA 2017, the Asian supremacy by our very own Gilas Pilipinas and participation in future Olympic Games is now a matter of time. Laban Pilipinas! Puso! (Atty. Eleodoro L. Diaz IV)
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