TEAM Pilipinas' campaign in the Fiba World Cup was not just for the sake of qualifying.
Tough as it may be, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) chairman Emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan bared the team's primary goal is to advance to the Top 16 of the August 31 to Sept. 15 meet in China.
"My hope is that they would enter the Final 16 and hopefully, we'll take it from there," said Pangilinan on Friday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo where he watched TnT Katropa's PBA Philippine Cup game against Columbian Dyip.
"We're in a tough bracket. But we wish the team all the best. And I think they will do well."
Pangilinan was in Shenzhen last week to personally watch the drawing festivities for the World Cup in which the Philippines was bracketed in Group D with world No. 4 Serbia, Italy and Angola.
Personally, the 72-year-old managing director and CEO of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Company Limited would like to have Team Pilipinas prepare well for the Fiba World Cup by having it train abroad for international exposure.
"I think the more time they need to prepare. This is it. This is the World Cup and there's no more qualifying windows," he stressed.
"So the more time they have to prepare, I think the better for the team."
But at the same time, he also understands the predicament of the PBA, which again needs to adjust its playing calendar if it would allow the national team to train abroad.
Pangilinan added he's leaving it all up to the PBA Board, the SBP under president Al Panlilio, and national coach Yeng Guiao to come up with a win-win solution.
His presence at the Antipolo venue, along with PBA Board Chairman Ricky Vargas, was amply rewarded after the Katropa turned back a hard-fighting Columbian Dyip side, 101-98, to enhance their bid for the no. 2 spot and a twice-to-beat advantage in the playoffs.
It was the first time Pangilinan watched a TnT game this season.
"I've been busy with a lot of things lately so I haven't been able to watch the games," he said.
"This is the first time I watched this conference, and muntik pa," a smiling Pangilinan added.
Rashawn McCarthy missed a potential game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer, allowing TnT to escape with the win.