Undeterred SBP vows to continue journey until Gilas learns to win at world level
Top basketball officials led by SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan in a pensive mood as the final seconds ticked away in Gilas' loss to New Zealand on Wednesday. Jerome Ascano

ALTHOUGH disappointed, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is not about to let Gilas Pilipinas' failure to make the Rio Olympics deter the drive to bring Philippine basketball to new heights.

A top SBP official said the setback suffered by Gilas in the ongoing Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament will only motivate the Filipinos to strive to learn 'to win at the level' they experienced going up against France and New Zealand in the first two days of the 2016 Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament. 

Gilas lost both games by narrow margins to bow out of contention for the lone Olympic berth at stake in the meet that ends on Sunday, but that hasn't dampened the spirit of SBP officials.

“We’re still a long ways to go, I guess, in terms of really being on that level,” Al Panlilio, SBP vice president and being groomed as the successor of Manny V. Pangilinan as head of the basketball body, said after watching Gilas’ 89-80 loss to New Zealand on Wednesday night.

“Nevertheless, we will continue to improve.”

Panlilio, the senior vice president of Meralco and head of the MVP Foundation, said Pangilinan shared his sentiment.

“He’s also disappointed, but he knows the team tried its best, that it really competed,” he said of Pangilinan, who momentarily left him t talk to the Gilas team inside the dugout at the Mall of Asia Arena following the loss.

Gilas coach Tab Baldwin referred to what the team is undergoing right now as a process, stressing that losing at this level would only teach the Filipinos ‘how to win at this level.’

The SBP vice president agreed.

“It’s good for us that we’re getting this kind of experience,” said the soft-spoken cage official. “I mean, both games were pretty close. Hindi naman tayo nilampaso, hindi tayo tinambakan.

"Again we showed them that we can compete at this level. We just have to get better. We progress, we continue progressing. It’s a journey.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos