Give And Go

Like most basketball-loving Filipinos, I, too, welcomed the decision of top officials of the sport in the land to reconsider their previous stand not to send a men’s basketball team to the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia later this month; seeing how only through to it can fans be appeased with the whole issue, better heed the call and move on.
While admittedly I understood where the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) was coming from when it initially decided not to participate in the quadrennial Games, deeming “the time and chance to participate in the 2018 Asian Games would not be optimal” due to the limited time to prepare and shortened talent pool, considering how criticism over the decision and clamor to reconsider snowballed in just short a time, however, officials were well advised to change their position lest they find public support for their program wane and continuously questioned.
This is apart, of course, from giving the country another potential medal source in the Asian Games. Notwithstanding the short preparation, the Philippines is still one of the more competitive basketball countries in this part of the world and could only be expected to be there in the mix of things.
Aside from listening to the clamor of the Filipino fans to participate in the Games, cited by the SBP and the Philippine Basketball Association as reasons as well for the reconsideration was the outright support of PBA team owners to form a team and intercessions by public officials, notably Bong Go, Special Assistant to the President, and Allan Peter Cayetano, Foreign Affairs Secretary and Chairman of the Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee.
In the Asian Games, SBP, as originally penciled as its Plan B, is sending a PBA-backed team composed of the core of the Rain or Shine team, 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 is Yeng Guiao of NLEX to be assisted by Caloy Garcia of Rain or Shine.
To recall, the core of the TNT KaTropa team was set to represent the Philippines in the Asiad before some of their players got suspended after the brawl that happened between Gilas Pilipinas and Australia in the third window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers last month, forcing SBP to turn to other sources.
Rain or Shine was then announced to represent the country on July 26, but hours later had its selection recalled as local basketball officials decided not to send a team altogether, which only fueled resentment and criticism.
In regrouping, familiarity was cited as one key reason for the composition of the team, which makes a whole lot of sense given it was left with a short time to prepare and train.
Rain or Shine undeniably was the best team in the ongoing Commissioner’s Cup outside of finalists San Miguel and Barangay Ginebra while the players culled from the other teams have particular skills sets and qualities that could help the Asiad-bound squad.
During the formal announcement of the reconsideration on Sunday, this space asked Coach Yeng what kind of team are they envisioning as they trim the roster from a pool of 14 players to the final 12.
“When you go international, you got to have the shooters and you have to have the quality big men. I guess, that will be the basis for the next eight days of practice, who can give those,” Guiao said, something I believe he has going with the players he has right now.
Yes, they are not the “primary” talent available but they are a collection that could potentially make things happen.
In hindsight, one just could only wish all these delays in preparation did not happen. But good thing reconsideration was made for the way things were panning out in the aftermath of the pullout as it could have gotten worse.
To Coach Yeng and the rest of the Asiad-bound team, all the best in your campaign. All support for you guys.
All’s well that ends well.
Michael Angelo S. Murillo has been a columnist since 2003. He is a BusinessWorld senior reporter covering the Sports beat.