SAMAHANG Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) executive director Sonny Barrios believes the decision of the PBA to shorten the season-ending Governors Cup and give Gilas Pilipinas the time to prepare for the Fiba-Asia Men’s Basketball Championship is a step in the right direction.
Barrios said he hopes the move will snowball into an all-out support for the national team, which will play in front of basketball-loving Filipinos from August 1 to 11 at the Mall of Asia Arena for the qualifying tournament of next year’s FIBA-World Basketball Championship in Spain.
”It is best to support the national team,” said Barrios. “I’m sure the PBA is sensitive to the pulse of the country.”
Only last week, the league board led by chairman Robert Non decided to shorten the schedule of the third conference to give way for the national team’s preparation in the Fiba-Asia meet - going over what it had committed to the national team.
Being a former commissioner of the pro league, Barrios said he fully understands why the PBA can't go the way of the old Micaa, which cancelled its games for six months for the national team's preparation for the Asian championships. That 1973 team was the last all-Filipino side to lift the title.
”Hindi madali ang magpa-tournament ng wala ang mga stars. I remember when I was in the PBA, ‘yung Willie Revillame argument. Sino ang manonood ng `Willing Willie’ kung wala si Willie?” Barrios said.
However, the country's hosting of the Asia showpiece requires a deeper commitment from all basketball stakeholders in the country.
“Huwag natin tignan ang national team na katulad ng ibang national team na dadalo sa ibang bansa,” Barrios said.
“Sana maalala natin na ang team na ito ay maglalaro on our own backyard for the first time after 40 years. Kapag ganun ang pananaw, then we will be more willing to have an exception to this and give the supreme sacrifice,” he said.