PROOF that the hosts' campaign in the FIBA-Asia Men’s Basketball Championship is for national cause and above personal and marketing considerations, the Philippine cage team has dropped top corporate backer Smart Communications' name and henceforth is going to be simply known as Gilas Pilipinas.
No less than Smart Communications and PLDT chairman Manny V. Pangilinan made the disclosure to Spin.ph on Sunday to drive home his call for unity among basketball stakeholders, team owners, and fans as a way of lending support to the national team in this worthy endeavor.
Pangilinan, the chief backer of Gilas Pilipinas in his capacity as president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), said that for the August 1-11 international cage meet, the official jersey of the team will only bear the word `Pilipinas’ in front.
The presence of the 'Smart' name in the national team has become a contentious issue both among owners and fans at a time when the SBP and the PBA are trying to get the pro teams' commitment to lend their players to Gilas for the event serving as the Asian qualifier for the 2014 world championships in Spain.
“Yung uniform naman ng Philippine team in the tournament ang nakalagay lang dun`Pilipinas’ at `yung pangalan ng players sa likod,” explained Pangilinan. “Walang Smart na nakalagay dun. So others won’t have to worry about it.”
PBA media bureau chief Willy Marcial confirmed that an understanding with SBP and the MVP Group had already been reached by the league regarding the sensitive matter.
“Yes, nagkaka-intindihan na kami sa SBP at ng MVP group na yun na nga muna ang name… Gilas Pilipinas,” said the ever-accommodating Marcial.
Pangilinan added that he welcomes other companies which are planning to sponsor the team in future tournaments.
“If they want to sponsor certain events or even the Fiba-Asia, we are open,” said Pangilinan. “If they want to participate (and help out in the sponsorship), open kami. It helps reduce the burden on us.”
The SBP chief and team owner of Talk `N Text was quick to write off suggestions from other fellow team owners such as Rain or Shine bosses Raymund Yu and Terry Que to put a small logo of teams which the nationals players are representing in the PBA, in their Gilas jerseys.
“That’s a good idea, but Fiba won’t allow that. Just the name of the country, number, and the name of the player,” said Pangilinan, pointing to strict Fiba regulations on sponsorships.