Incoming PBA president and chief executive Chito Salud said Wednesday that the time has come to move on as far as the formation of the Gilas Pilipinas team is concerned even as he reiterated the league’s unwavering support to the cause of the national team.
“Let’s put an end to all the speculations as to why this player begged off or whether that player is really injured,” Salud said. “What’s more important now is to look at the bigger picture and stop focusing on the small things.”
With several key players declining, for various reasons, invitation to suit up for the national team vying for an Olympic berth in the FIBA Asia Championship in China next month, Gilas coach Tab Baldwin has tapped deep into the PBA roster to put together a 16-man training pool, including naturalized player Andray Blatche, and kick off practice.
“We should no longer be talking about why Junemar (Fajardo) couldn’t make it or why Marcio (Lassiter) supposedly said yes and then left for the States,” Salud said. “In fairness to San Miguel Corporation, they gave all their players 100 percent permission to play for Gilas, but we have to respect it when the players concerned opted to beg off.”
Salud said attention should now be directed on the current Gilas pool and the possibility of the country winning the hosting bid to the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
“Also,” Salud said, “we have to start planning for 2017. That’s why it’s imperative that the PBA be advised by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas of its program for at least the next two years. So the league and the ballclubs can make the necessary adjustments.”
Salud said the PBA is fully committed to helping the national team in whatever way it can and would like to see a meeting of the minds between the two sides.
One way of ensuring this, Salud said, is to bring together once more all the team owners to a power meeting.
“For one time only and for one topic alone: the formation of the strongest national team possible,” said Salud, who plans to reach out to the top brass of the PBA teams within the next few days.
“This is imperative, especially if we get the rights to host the World Cup,” said Salud, who made history by bringing together the PBA howitzers at start of his term five years ago.
“It may be time to do it again,” Salud said.
The PBA has been in the forefront of forming the national team since 1990 when pro players were first allowed to suit up in the Beijing Asian Games. But the league stepped aside to give way to the SBP after it was recognized by the Philippine Olympic Committee and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) as the country’s governing body for amateur basketball.
Under SBP, Gilas Pilipinas, coached by Chot Reyes, won the silver medal in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship in Manila and earned a ticket to the World Cup in Spain where the Philippines claimed its first victory in the global stage after 40 years.
Baldwin, the former New Zealand and Jordan coach, took over after Reyes stepped down and has been a fixture in the PBA where he sat on the sideline, frequently with former Gilas player and now PH team assistant coach Jimmy Alapag, to size up the talent he intended to tap for the next FIBA Asia campaign.
Injuries, fatigue and sickness to members of the family, however, forced some players to excuse themselves from consideration, prompting Baldwin to look somewhere else.