BASKETBALL patron Manny V. Pangilinan admitted on Tuesday that the 'uncertainty' over the formation of the Gilas Pilipinas was dug up by a Fiba Central Board member during the bid process for the hosting rights of the 2019 Fiba World Cup, which the Philippines lost to China.
Breaking his silence on the issue with a guest appearance in TV5's 'Reaksyon' program, Pangilinan said one board member from the US touched on Gilas' inability to get the players it wants for the team to the 2015 Fiba-Asia championships during the question-and-answer portion of the big process.
"One board member from the US asked if the Philippines can send a competitive team to the 2019 Fiba World Cup," Pangilinan, also the head of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, told program host Luchi Cruz-Valdez.
They Said It!
“Isa lang sagot diyan, magpasa ng batas ang kongreso. Anyone called to serve the country as Philippine athlete is mandatory. Failure to do so, disciplinary action agad. Lifetime banned sa lahat ng liga na sanction ng FIBA at IOC, at higit sa lahat sa professional league na sinasalihan. On the other hand, full benefits to all athletes that serves the country, win or lose. Mother team magkakaroon ng fine if ever napatunayang hindi nirelease ang player." - Lee Cahilig
Pangilinan said he considered the question loaded ("May laman," he said) and a pasaring (inuendo), likely alluding to disunity among the ranks of PBA team owners in the formation of the team bound for the Fiba-Asia showpiece in China next month.
The latest incarnation of the national team has been having difficulty assembling the players which head coach Tab Baldwin wants, with former Gilas mainstays becoming unavailable due to varying reasons amid suspicion they were not given the green light by their mother teams in the PBA.
While Pangilinan did not directly blame disunity - perceived or otherwise - as one of the factors for the Philippines' failure to win the hosting rights for the 2019 Fiba World Cup, he said the PBA should be aware that Fiba keeps tab of developments in its member countries.
"Alam nila ang nangyayari," he said. "Yung Russia (federation) nga sinuspend for the same reasons."
Pangilinan also opened up about other factors that may have weighed down on the Philippine bid, from the lack of infrastructure to guarantee a smooth World Cup to the traffic in Metro Manila and the 'lack of international connections' in terms of air travel.
One board member from Africa also asked how they can secure visas for the event when there are no Philippine embassies or consular offices in most of their nations, Pangilinan added.
In terms of infrastructure, Pangilinan said the Philippine panel which he led was talking in 'prospective' terms while China already had most of the infrastructure in place to host the World Cup.
Asked by Valdez if the bid process came down to a monetary battle or 'pera pera lang,' the basketball patron admitted that he was certain China committed a bigger fee to the 14 million euros (12M as franchise fee and a 2M performance bond) which the Philippines pledged to Fiba.
Overall, Pangilinan said the Philippines and China had the same estimate of 35 million euros (about P1.8 billion) on the cost to stage the World Cup, which he said the SBP planned to put up through a public-private partnership.