CAGE legend Mon Fernandez on Thursday aired his doubts over the move to tap NBA players Javale McGee and Andray Blatche as future naturalized players for Gilas Pilipinas, saying it is a "wrong approach" that may only prove counter-productive for the country's basketball program.
A member of the Philippine team that reached the world championships in 1974 in Puerto Rico, Fernandez said the chance to play against the globe's best players in the World Cup in Spain in August should be used to hone and develop the current crop of national players.
They Said It!
“"Mawawalan lang ng opportunity ang mga kababayan natin (if we tap the two NBA players). 'Yung experience na ma-gain ng kababayan natin sa mga international tournaments like the world championships, 'yun ang mas importante sa akin!" Ramon Fernandez
"Mawawalan lang ng opportunity ang mga kababayan natin dyan (if we tap the two NBA players)," said the four-time PBA MVP. "'Yung experience na ma-gain ng kababayan natin sa mga international tournaments like the world championships, 'yun ang mas importante sa akin!"
“Meron na tayong malalaking players, merun na tayong 6-4 at 6-5 na point guard … 6-7 at 6-8 na forward, tapos mayroon pa tayong June Mar Fajardo at Greg Slaughter.
“Sayang lang pera natin sa dalawang NBA player na 'yun. Ano ba ang purpose nila at mission para kumuha ng NBA player? Will we land in the top two o top three with those players?” Fernandez asked.
Realistically, Fernandez said the Philippines can't hope to beat the world's basketball superpowers even with McGee and Blatche in the lineup.
The national team program, he added, should instead focus on the quest to do well in Asia, with the fund to be allotted for the two NBA players channeled towards the development of future players.
“Ambisyunin na lang natin ang Asia, it’s even hard at it is. Asia pa lang mabigat ng battleground sa akin, 'pag nag-qualify tayo sa world (championships) at Olympics, that’s already a bonus,” Fernandez said.
“Si Marcus Douthit lang okay na 'yan. Or after Douthit, okay lang mag-naturalize ng iba … pero sa akin nga, kahit hindi na. Ang ambisyunin lang natin Asia. 'Wag na yung world stage,” added the PBA legend who is now based in the South managing his flourishing ‘Suka ni El Presidente’ business.
“Hindi rin tayo makakuha ng decent placing with two or three NBA players in the pool.”
Fernandez also doubts if Gilas can count on the full commitment of McGee and Blatche, who are playing for the Denver Nuggets and Brooklyn Nets, respectively.
“Definitely, yung commitments ng mga yun questionable na. I suppose they will allow those guys to continue playing in the NBA and play only for the Philippines during international competitions,” he said.
“Magpapakamatay ba yung mga yun para sa atin, sa tingin niyo? Siyempre, baka matakot lang yan na mapilayan dito, mawala pa NBA career nila,” said Fernandez, a member of the PBA's 25 Greatest Players.
“How much are we paying those guys? Personally, I think it’s a wrong approach. Baka magsisi lang tayo dyan in the end.”