By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE Philippines gets to compete in men’s basketball in the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia in two weeks’ time after top officials of the sport in the land decided to reconsider an earlier decision not to send a team to the quadrennial Games.
In a short-noticed press conference at the media room of the Smart Araneta Coliseum prior to the start of Game Five of the best-of-seven Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup finals on Sunday, officials of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, Inc. and members of the PBA Board made the formal announcement of the reconsideration.
Citing primarily the huge clamor from basketball fans to have a team compete in the Games, along with outright support of the PBA team owners as well as requests from government officials Bong Go, Special Assistant to the President, and Allan Peter Cayetano, Foreign Affairs Secretary and Chairman of the Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee, the SBP and PBA said the decision to send a team was made.
Representing the Philippines to the 2018 Asiad is the core of the Rain or Shine team in the PBA, namely Maverick Ahanmisi, Chris Tiu, Gabe Norwood, James Yap, Beau Belga and Raymond Almazan, and backstopped by players from the other squads in the league — Christian Standhardinger (San Miguel), Stanley Pringle (GlobalPort), JP Erram (Blackwater), Paul Lee (Magnolia), Don Trollano (TNT) and Asi Taulava (NLEX).
Part of the pool of players as well are Gilas cadet players Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero.
Coach of the team is Yeng Guiao of NLEX, incidentally former coach of Rain or Shine.
Messrs. Lee, Pringle and Taulava, however, are still awaiting their accreditation to play for the team from the organizing committee, the SBP said.
The decision and announcement effectively overturned the decision of the SBP on July 26 not to send a team to the Asian Games, deeming “the time and chance to participate in the 2018 Asian Games would not be optimal.”
Said decision late last month was made hours after the SBP and PBA announced that the Rain or Shine team, aided by players from the other teams, was to represent the Philippines in place of the originally selected TNT KaTropa squad.
The sudden about-face did not sit well with fans and other stakeholders, criticizing the move and decision, and petitioning the SBP to reconsider.
Mr. Guiao said that they will make do of the time they have in preparing a competitive team in the Asiad.
“We have limited time to prepare because of the delay that happened but that won’t stop us from giving our best. We have come up with this list of players because of familiarity. I have worked with the players of Rain or Shine while the others I have no problem working with them,” said Mr. Guiao of the mindset they have and the players the team will be having.
The start of team practice is set for today and the squad is to leave for Indonesia on Aug. 14.
Right before the press conference ended, SBP announced that the letter it sent to the Asian Games organizing committee signifying its pullout has been set aside and that it is welcoming back the Philippine basketball team.
By Michael Angelo S. Murillo