ONE by one, team owners in the PBA, who also happen to be some of the biggest names in Philippine business, stood up to be counted ahead of the national team's bid to win the country's first Asian basketball championship in four decades on home soil in August.
Everyone from San Miguel Corp. head Ramon Ang to Alaska Milk team owner Wilfred Uytengsu vowed all-out support to the PBA Gilas Pilipinas team in phone conversations with PBA commissioner Chito Salud, a day after the Philippines was awarded the hosting rights for the Fiba Asia men's championship.
No wonder Salud spoke with conviction when he appeared in a press conference at the MOA Arena on Friday, assuring everyone that all team owners were "on board" in making sure the country will have the best team possible for the event serving as the qualifier for the 2014 world championships in Spain.
“These (support of other teams) are minor details in the bigger scheme of things because these can be resolved reasonably by team owners. I assure everyone that all the team owners are on board on this,” said Salud without going to specifics.
Unknown to many, however, Salud had called all the team owners before appearing in the press conference, getting assurances of support not only from Ang and Uytengsu but also from Barako Bull's George Chua, Rain or Shine's Raymond Yu and Terry Que, Globalport's Mikee Romero, and Air21's Bert Lina.
That should be good news for Talk 'N Text and Meralco team owner Manny Pangilinan, who, in his capacity as head of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, made his biggest pitch yet on Friday in trying to rally his fellow team owners behind the Gilas squad of Chot Reyes.
Gilas officials now hope the vow of support will translate to a commitment from all the ballclubs that all the players Reyes needs for the August 1-11 tournament will be made available.
The assurance from Ang is especially crucial since players from the three San Miguel-owned teams, save for former Ginebra player Enrico Villanueva, have not been made available for the national team since the second Gilas batch was formed by Reyes in the final quarter of 2012.
Uytengsu has also turned cold on the Gilas program after the LA Tenorio brouhaha left his Alaska team in crisis after the nationals' conquest of the Jones Cup title in Taipei in September.