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Cagers to play in Asiad

By Jonas Terrado

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) will send a team to the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games after all, 10 days after withdrawing from the quadrennial meet over concerns on whether the country can field a squad that can compete for at least a podium finish.

Both the SBP and the PBA were scheduled to hold a press confer­ence before Game 5 of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum to an­nounce the decision which will serve as good news for fans who were disappointed with the earlier plan to pull out of the Asiad.

Sources said several PBA teams gave in on the request of coach Yeng Guiao, tapped to handle the national squad to Indonesia, to secure the services of players outside of the core of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.

One source couldn’t confirm which of the players will be made available but the names of Mag­nolia’s Paul Lee, GlobalPort’s Stan­ley Pringle and NLEX’s Asi Taulava were among those included in Guiao’s wishlist.

Another source revealed that Bong Go, Special Assistant to Pres­ident Duterte, also lend a hand in finding a resolution to the mat­ter after last-minute discussions with SBP officials led by chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan.

The SBP shocked local cage fans shortly before midnight last July 26 when it decided to skip the Asian Games despite getting a go-signal from the PBA Board of Governors to allow Rain or Shine to field its key players for the qua­drennial competition.

The PBA, for its part, defended its perceived role in the pullout, saying that the SBP through Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes had earlier decided to skip the Indone­sia meet.

The core of TNT KaTropa along with naturalized player Andray Blatche was initially picked to rep­resent the country in the Asiad but a brawl pitting Gilas and Australia in last month’s FIBA World Cup Qualifiers forced the SBP to take a different route.

Though five of the 10 players suspended for the brawl, namely Blatche, Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo, Roger Pogoy and Troy Ro­sario, are allowed to play in the Asiad, the SBP deemed it neces­sary to pull them over what federa­tion president Al Panlilio described as a “moral reason.”

San Miguel Beer was initially asked if it could replace TNT but the PBA decided to give the right to the top of the Commissioner’s Cup eliminations which went to Rain or Shine.