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Asiad campaign bearing fruit for PH basketball

LAS VEGAS – A reinvigorated relationship between the Philippine Basketball Association and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, sparked by the emotional performance of the national team in the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, could see an expanded involvement by the PBA in future international campaigns.

While originally only FIBA-sanctioned tournaments, specifically the World Cup and Olympic qualifiers, can move the PBA to take a break from its hectic yearlong schedule and release pros into the Philippine training pool, the gains made by the Yeng Guiao-coached team in the Asiad had swung the door open to wider participation.

At the close of a four-hour meeting by the PBA board of governors, along with PBA commissioner Willie Marcial, it was agreed the league will be incorporating key SBP foreign obligations into its own by adjusting the PBA calendar and accommodating tournaments like the FIBA Asia Champions Cup and the Southeast Asian Games.

Also likely to find its way back into the PBA’s master plan is participation in the next Asian Games, an involvement initially set aside by the league governors until the tempestuous events that led to Guiao forming a PH team, powered by NBA player Jordan Clarkson, in 12 days and steering it to a fifth place finish.

The renewed working relationship between the two cage bodies will see the Meralco Bolts competing in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup on Sept. 27 in Bangkok with the PBA adjusting the Bolts’ schedule in the ongoing Governors’ Cup.

“The PBA is now open and very supportive of our programs for the national team ,” said SBP president Al Panlilio, also the Bolts governor. “That’s a big plus and we are very thankful for that.”

Ricky Vargas, chairman of the PBA board and president of the Philippine Olympic Committee, said Marcial has agreed to “fix the PBA calendar” to allow the SBP to form the strongest team possible.

Vargas also noted the bandwagon effect resulting from the Nationals’ stint in Indonesia.

“Not only are the PBA teams supportive, even the players have expressed their desire to join the training pool,” he said.

If successful in FIBA Asia windows to the World Cup in September in Guangzhou, China, the Philippines will be sending an all-pro team for the second time in four years to wage battle with the globe’s best, an experience it savored in 2014 in Seville, Spain.

Joining the annual planning session as well are Alaska’s Dickie Bachmann, San Miguel Beer’s Robert Non, Purefoods’ Rene Pardo, Rain or Shine’s Mamerto Mondragon, Columbian’s Bobby Rosales, NLEX’s Rod Franco, Blackwater’s Siliman Sy, NorthPort’s Erick Arejola, Phoenix’ Raymond Zorrilla and Alfrancis Chua of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel. (Tito S. Talao)