HECTOR Calma, one of the 25 Greatest Players in PBA history and the starting point guard of the last Philippine team that won the Fiba-Asia Championship, believes the core of Gilas Pilipinas should be kept intact ahead of its stint in next year’s world championship.
The boyish-looking player, now an executive at San Miguel Corp., stressed maintaining a solid core is likely to increase the national team’s chances of winning a game or two in the 2014 Fiba-World Cup in Spain.
The Philippines qualified for the world meet for the first time since 1978 following a runner-up finish in the last 27th Fiba-Asia Championship held in Manila last week.
With more than a year to prepare, Chot Reyes said on Wednesday he is leaning toward bringing his Fiba-Asia team to the Spain tourrnament. (For full story, see Barring injuries, Chot keen to bring 'Magic 12' to Spain for world championships)
Based on his experience with the Northern Consolidated Corp. (NCC) squad, Calma wants Gilas to bring the same team to Spain.
“Ang maganda lang sa amin (sa NCC), `yung program namin kahit amateur players, hindi kami nag-pro at naging matagal `yung programa. Kaya maganda ang camaraderie and team effort. Na-represent namin ang country from 1982 to 1986 with the same team, coaches, and players,” he said.
Calma was the starting guard of the national team backed by former ambassador Danding Cojuangco that ruled the 1985 Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC), which later evolved into the present Fiba-Asia Championship, in Malaysia.
The team, however, failed to compete in the 1986 world championship in Madrid, Spain due to the political upheaval that came to be known as the Edsa Revolution.
Looking back, Calma believed that had they competed in the world meet, the nationals may have beaten a few teams mainly because they have been together for years under the great American coach Ron Jacobs.
“With the preparation that we had, meron kaming tatalunin,” said Calma.
“Magagaling ang coach namin, and we had a good support kay Mr. Cojuangco, and we were together. Yun ang importante, `yung chemistry,” he added.
Together with the entire nation, Calma felt proud with the accomplishment of Gilas Pilipinas even if it failed to duplicate the gold medal achievement of NCC after losing to Iran in the championship match, 85-71.
“Proud ako sa Gilas team na at least nakapasok tayo sa Fiba-World sa Spain. Kung nandoon lang si Marcus (Douthit), baka nakuha na natin `yung gold,” he said.
Now the alternate board member of Petron in the pro league, Calma likewise observed Asian basketball is a lot different now compared to his time, making Gilas Pilipinas’ silver medal finish tougher to accomplish.
“Siguro mas iba na `yung laro ngayon dahil ang kalaban nila mas malalakas na at mas malalaki,” said Calma.