HOSTING the 27th FIBA-Asia men’s cage tournament is just the initial step in the country’s bid for a return to the World Basketball Championship.
Getting the best players to comprise the national team and molding them into one cohesive unit is the hard part.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) executive director Sonny Barrios said it’s a must for coach Chot Reyes to have the best talent in his team that will play before basketball-crazy fans for the first time in four decades in a major international tournament such as the FIBA-Asia.
“We want the best Filipino basketball talent to make up the team. `Yun ang pananaw natin na sana mangyari. We will be shortchanging our countrymen if we’re not going to field our best,” said Barrios when he appeared as main guest in Tuesday’s PSA Forum.
Moying Martelino was with Barrios in the same weekly session and the former Asian Basketball Confederation (predecessor of the FIBA-Asia) secretary-general agreed with his longtime friend.
Martelino recalled the same experience the country had when it last hosted the biennial meet in 1973.
“We should have the best of the best. In 1973 we had the best of the best – the best we could ever assemble,” recalled Martelino of the talent-laden team headed by the great Robert Jaworski, Bogs Adornado, and Ramon Fernandez and coached by the late Tito Eduque.
But Barrios also reminded everybody that adequate preparation is also needed for a star-studded team to play as one.
“Fielding the best is not enough. The preparation time, importante `yun. Mas mahabang panahon `yung kanilang paghahanda, mas mabuti,” stressed the former PBA commissioner.
“It will be sad if we run a highly-organized event but our team is lacking in preparation.”
Three slots are reserved for Asia in next year’s world championship in Spain, and Barrios said making the semifinals should be Gilas Pilipinas’ minimum target.
“The goal is to make it to the semis first so we can have two chances of qualifying to the 2014 World Championships. If we make it to the finals, then we are assured. If we land in the battle for third, then it’s a must-win situation,” said the SBP official.
Smart Gilas-Pilipinas under former Serbian coach Rajko Toroman, lost to Korea in the battle for third place during the last staging of the meet in Wuhan, China two years ago.
The Philippines has won the FIBA Asia (then known as the ABC Championship) five times - in 1960 during its inaugural staging in Manila, 1963 in Taipei, 1967 in Seoul, again in 1973 in Manila, and in 1985 in Kuala Lumpur with a team led by Allan Caidic, Samboy Lim, Hector Calma, Jeff Moore, Dennis Still and coached by Ron Jacobs.