PBA fans have expressed full support for the Gilas Pilipinas team bound for the Fiba World Cup and possibly the Asian Games this year, saying the best players should be made available to the national team.
Just hours after Gilas coach Chot Reyes said he is eyeing Ginebra stars Japeth Aguilar, Greg Slaughter and LA Tenorio for the Spain-bound team, fans of the league's most popular club told Spin.ph said they will be thrilled to see the 'Three Kings' in the national squad.
Ginebra diehard Rhen Galang said he expects the Kings to loan the three stars to the Reyes, saying the team and its supporters have never been stingy when it comes to support for the national squad.
"Si Mark (Caguioa) nga dati hiniram ng national team. Kahit may chance kami mag champion ng three straight noong 2005, hindi kami kumontra na mga fans. All out support namin," said Galang, a survivor of the Ozone Disco tragedy in 1994.
"Na-injure pa nga si Mark nun. Kaya ngayon kung gusto nila si Greg at pumayag management, mas masaya kami. Alam namin na maraming maitutulong si Greg. Ang laki na ng inimprove niya," added the longtime Ginebra fan.
"Syempre kung makikita namin sila (Ginebra players) na naglalaro sa national team ... mas lalo pa ngang ganado pag suporta namin. Kasi mas makaka-relate kami. Syempre mga sinusuportahan namin sa PBA 'yun. Mas magiging intense pag-cheer namin."
Another Kings supporter, Kaye Cabal, who is also the moderator of Ginebra's Twitter and Facebook accounts, is also all out in her support for the proposal, saying the Fiba World Cup campaign is bigger than Ginebra and the PBA.
"Nakakatuwa na willing ang fans to sacrifice. It could have effects sa team especially big factor si Greg and Japeth sa magandang tinatakbo ng team ngayon but at the same time, the Fiba World Cup is bigger than Ginebra and the PBA," said Cabal.
"Matagal nating hinintay ang makabalik ang Pilipinas sa mapa ng world basketball. Sana lang po kung gaano kalaki ang ipinapakitang suporta ng fans sa Gilas, ganito din po ang ipakita ng mga teams natin. Let's take the best talent we have to Spain. Para sa bayan," she added.
Even longtime Alaska supporter Rey Tan said he wants to see Aces players suit up for Gilas, saying whatever success the teams gains will always be a big source of pride for Filipinos.
“Kung may hihiramin sa Alaska ang national team, mas proud ako. Makaka-contribute sa attainment ng national goal,” said Tan, a fixture at ringside during Alaska games.
The soft spoken 54-year-old fan defended the Aces’ decision to pull out top players Sonny Thoss and Calvin Abueva from the last Gilas pool before the Fiba-Asia championships in Manila, saying the Uytengsu franchise had a different direction that time.
That may change now that the Aces have won last year's Commissioner's Cup, he added.
“This time, siguro baka magpahiram, na-achieve yung objective last year. Nag-champion naman. Baka magbago pananaw nila,” he said. “Towards the championship kasi yung selection process nun (last Gilas pool formation) di ba? Kung nagpahiram sila ng player nun, baka hindi nag-champion.”
Tan said exposure to international tournaments also has its benefits to the players.
“Iba yung experience na makukuha ng player sa international tournament. Imagine your team’s top player playing against the best in the world," he said.
Reyes has expressed his wish to be given a free hand in choosing his players for the two tournaments, unlike in the last Fiba-Asia tournament where teams were mandated to lend only one player from their lineups.
"Free hand means free hand," the Gilas coach said.