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PSC out to save Asiad cage stint

By Nick Giongco

The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) is making at last ditch effort to send a basketball team to the 2018 Asian Games that gets going in Jakarta in less than two weeks.

PSC chairman William ‘Buch’ Ramirez told TEMPO Friday morning that a meeting with Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Ricky Vargas is being arranged in an effort to salvage the country’s participation in the Aug. 16-Sept. 2 sportsfest.

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) had decided not to field a team after the suspension of key players following Gilas Pilipinas’ World Cup qualifying game with Australia last month.

Ramirez insists that there remains an abundance of talent in the country that assembling a competitive squad won’t be a problem.

“We are urgently trying to find a solution to this because the Philippines is qualified, the Philippines is a basketball country and social media and mass media are critical of the situation and a decision (not to participate) is not the monopoly of one person,” said Ramirez, stressing that the PBA is on standby.

SBP president Al Panlilio made the announcement of the withdrawal last week.

POC spokesperson Ed Picson said that while Vargas is closely aligned with sports patron Manny V. Pangilinan, the decision to withdraw was solely SBP’s call, citing that it is the NSA that calls the shots and not even the POC leadership can dictate.

“While we don’t have a say, the PSC has oversight powers,” said Ramirez.

A meeting with Vargas and SBP officials will be Ramirez’s priority Friday.