FOR many-time national player and PBA legend Ramon Fernandez, preparation will be the key to regaining the country’s long-lost basketball glory in Asia.
Fernandez, a vital cog in the last all-Filipino Philippine team to rule the ABC championships (forerunner of Fiba-Asia competition) in 1973, said winning the Asian title is much harder these days because of how much other countries have improved through the years.
“Just consider how much the other countries have improved. In the sixties to eighties, the other countries were not into basketball as much as they are right now, so competition is really tougher right now,” Fernandez said after gracing the Fiba Asia men’s championship draw at the Manila Hotel on Thursday.
“Kaya No. 1 is preparation. I’m sure the coaching staff is making sure that we’re 100 percent prepared. I hope we chose the correct grouping, though based on what I gathedred from my friends, maganda yung grupong napuntahan nila,” added Fernandez, who is now based in the South.
The 59-year-old, who retired in 1994 after winning 19 PBA titles and four league MVP trophies, remains active in basketball through his Walk Tall with Basketball, a basketball camp where he teaches kids the basic of the game.
Fernandez said playing for the national team is a priceless experience, calling it the “culmination of his dream” as a basketball player.
“For me, I always consider playing for the Philippine team as the culmination of my dream. Dati, yun lang ang ambition natin eh, while playing in the PBA is just the icing on the cake,” he said.
Fernandez and 1973 national teammates Yoyong Martirez, Manny Paner and Jaime Mariano, as well as former national trainer Juan Cutillas, were feted prior to the ceremony.