SAMAHANG Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Sonny Barrios clarified that the federation is intent on winning the two games in the August window, while the main focus remains on the 2023 Fiba Basketball World Cup.
Barrios made the explanation as he defended head coach Chot Reyes, who said Gilas does not need to win against Fiba Asia Cup runner-up Lebanon, drawing the ire of basketball fans once again.
"Inulit na naman ni coach Tim (Cone) na we really don’t need to win the game against Lebanon. It’s going to be good for PR. It’s going to be good, I guess, for me with my haters. But for the whole team’s objective? Not necessarily," said Reyes on Sunday after the PBA postgame press conference.
Barrios explained the context of Reyes’ statement which is that Gilas has automatically made it to the Fiba World Cup being the host and it has the luxury of putting together different combinations in the windows without the pressure of qualification.
Chot Reyes under fire again.
But Barrios said that once the team is formed and on the court, the goal is definitely to win games.
“I took it up with him and he (Reyes) and the coaches are aware that, from the top, from Mr. Pangilinan, the objective is to win the game that we play. That’s the objective. At the same time, for example itong Aug. 25 and 29, we are not fielding our best team for the World Cup. The luxury of evaluating several players or many players and many combinations, we earned it. Hindi lahat nag-host ay automatically qualified sa World Cup. Tayo lang ng Japan,” said Barrios during Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum.
“We are automatically qualified not just because we are the host but because of our world ranking. Naka-achieve na tayo ng ganun eh. But we are not going there to walk in the park. Definitely not. Chot and the coaching staff will get it from Boss MVP, president Al Panlilio, and Mr. Vargas and the whole nation if they go there na parang nakikipag-scrimmage lang sila. They will try their best and live and die on the court if necessary to win.”
“That said, we have the luxury of ‘we don’t have to win’ but the desire to win will always be there. ‘Yung need to win in terms of qualifying, wala ’yun. But the desire to win is always there,” said Barrios.
The Philippines is set to face Lebanon on the road on August 25 before heading back to the country for a home game against Saudi Arabia at the Mall of Asia Arena on August 29.
Jordan Clarkson is expected to play in the two games after being named as part of the initial pool together with Dwight Ramos, Kiefer Ravena, Thirdy Ravena, Bobby Ray Parks, Francis Lopez, Carl Tamayo, and Kevin Quiambao.
The PBA players that will form part of the pool will be announced after the conclusion of the Philippine Cup semifinals.
Barrios said the coaching staff is a group of winners who are working hard to assemble a team and will make sure that it will be competitive for the two games in the August window.
“Nabanggit ko na ‘yung kultura ng winning. Pero winners ang coaching staff from coach Chot to Tim, to coach Jong and to Coach Nenad,” said Barrios.
As Reyes and the SBP continue to receive criticisms from basketball fans, Barrios called for their continued support to the national team and the plans being drawn by the federation and the coaching staff.
“I want to assure our public na wag niyo po sanang iwanan ang ating Gilas. Alam ko marami pa kayong inaasahan na hindi nakuha sa ngayon pero pinagbubuti po namin,” said Barrios.
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