Chooks to Go willing to offer players maximum PBA salaries to go full time with Gilas
Chooks to Go president Ronald Mascarinas says he's eager to follow the NCC model of the eighties that featured amateur stars like Hector Calma, Samboy Lim, and Allan Caidic who went full time with the national team under the late Ron Jacobs. Jerome Ascano

BOUNTY Agro Ventures Inc. is going all out in its support to Gilas Pilipinas that the parent company of the national team’s major sponsor, Chooks to Go, is willing to bankroll a national side if and when it will feature full-time national players.

Chooks to Go boss Ronald Mascariñas bared the plan on Wednesday during the sendoff for the national team bound for Chinese Taipei for the Jones Cup, saying he plans to offer national standouts salaries equivalent to the maximum in the PBA just to go full-time with Gilas.

“The main objective really is for the country to play in the Olympics so ang Pilipinas, just like all other countries, challenge dun sa schedule ng mga professional ballclub,” Mascariñas said.

“We’re offering, making this offer, if we can work out with the SBP and the PBA, we’re willing to finance – full time national team players. As an incentive for them, we’re willing to give the maximum salary to each national player – if that is at all possible.”

Mascarinas' suggestions comes at a time when Gilas once again faces perennial problems over the availability of top players for national team duty.

[See Chot says uncertain status of top PBA players for Fiba Asia a 'reality we have to live with']

There should be no such problems with a national team of full-time players.

“Gusto ko sana full time na national team,” the Bounty Fresh boss continued. “Wherever, kung saan man tournaments yan, hindi papalit palit. We may not have the tallest team, not have the most talented team, but kung ang team natin ay matagal na magkasama, in terms of teamwork, we might have that, that might be the asset of the Philippine team.”

Chooks to Go is in the first of a four-year partnership with Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).

Mascariñas, though, said talks have yet to start with the company, the SBP, and the PBA.

“Kami, pinag-usapan lang namin yun internally and this is really the first time, kasi andito si congressman (Robbie) Puno ng SBP, it was a good time to make that pitch,” Mascariñas told scribes after the press conference.

“Actually yung statement ko kanina was really a pitch. If that is something that is interesting to the PBA and SBP, then we’ll take it from there.”

[See Youthful Gilas side vows to go all out against formidable Jones Cup opposition]

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Mascariñas admitted that he’s eager to follow the model of the powerhouse Northern Consolidated Cement-backed national side in the mid-1980s that featured top amateur stars like Hector Calma, Allan Caidic and Samboy Lim who went full-time with the national team.

“Actully yun yung… yun talaga pattern ko eh,” Mascariñas said. “I was younger at that time, talagang di mawala sa isip ko yun na napakalakas ng team na yun, yung Northern Consolidated team na yun. I hope we can do something similar to that.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos