by Jonas Terrado and Waylon Galvez
Philippine Olympic Committee President Ricky Vargas is backing the decision of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to withdraw from next month’s Indonesia Asian Games despite the threat that the country will be facing sanctions from the Olympic Council of Asia.
The SBP stunned everyone shortly before midnight Thursday when it decided not to send a team to the Asiad over concerns of possibly not having a competitive roster that could contend for at least a podium finish in the quadrennial meet.
SBP’s announcement came hours after the PBA Board of Governors agreed to lend the core players of Rain or Shine and have NLEX coach Yeng Guiao to call the shots, shutting down the idea of having from other teams reinforce the national squad.
Vargas, who also acts as PBA Chairman, seconded SBP’s statement of having to take a “one-step backward, two steps forward” approach that will center the focus not only on the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers but also the country’s hosting of 2023 World Cup.
“What the SBP is doing is they’re looking forward to strengthening the future than looking at what is current,” Vargas said in a phone patch conference hastily-called by PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial Friday afternoon at the league office in Libis, Quezon City.
BRACING FOR SANCTIONS
Vargas is also bracing for sanctions from OCA, which organizes the Asian Games.
“There will be a sanction which is probably in terms of monetary,” he said. “What I don’t know is if there’s a sanction outside of a fine.”
Meanwhile, Guiao said the PBA’s decision not to allow players from other teams played a major factor in the sudden pullout.
Guiao reportedly wanted to have Magnolia’s Paul Lee and Ginebra’s Jeff Chan – two players he coached during his coaching stint with Rain or Shine – as part of the Asian Games even as the SBP was trying to see if NBA player Jordan Clarkson will be allowed to suit up as naturalized player despite stringent rules by OCA.
“I was finalizing the lineup when I was informed the board denied our request for players from other teams,” Guiao said late Thursday.
“While in the process of trying to complete the lineup, there has been doubts on whether (or not) we can really compete without the players we requested,” added Guiao.
SHOCKED AND DISMAYED
Meantime, the league remains committed to lend players to the national team despite expressing disappointment in the sudden withdrawal.
Members of the league’s Board of Governors was taken aback by the SBP’s pullout from the quadrennial meet.
“All-out pa rin ang PBA,” Marcial said in a press conference held before the opener of the Commissioner’s Cup Finals between San Miguel Beer and Barangay Ginebra at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Several members of the board pleaded for understanding after fans, particularly those on social media, blamed the league for refusing to lend several players from other teams.
The board even cited multiple discussions by Gilas coach Chot Reyes months ago of skipping the Asiad, but that changed after the board agreed to have the core of TNT KaTropa as the country’s representative to the Games.
“It’s not true that San Miguel or any team has no interest lending players, it’s a matter of scheduling,” said San Miguel sports director Alfrancis Chua, who also acts as Ginebra’s team governor.
Asked if the fiasco has led to a rocky relationship between the SBP and the PBA, Marcial and other board members said it’s a matter of a miscommunication between the two parties.