MANNY V. Pangilinan said the relationship between the PBA and the new leadership set to take over the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) will have a big say on Gilas Pilipinas' participation in the 2016 Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Pangilinan made no effort to hide the SBP's reluctance to field a team to the last qualifying tournament before the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in July following the squad’s silver-medal finish behind host China in the 2015 Fiba-Asia Championship in Changsha.
“Hindi ko naman sinasabing 'no' pero let’s be realistic,” said Pangilinan during SBP’s press conference held on Thursday at the PLDT office in Makati.
Nevertheless, Pangilinan said his stand could change depending on the relationship between the PBA and the new leadership, which will take over in January after his decision to step down from a post he held for two four-year terms beginning in 2007.
“Ngayon, kung ang bagong liderato ng SBP is mas mabango sa PBA, sabihin ko na ‘yun, na mas kung puwede pang palakasin ‘yung ating team for next year, eh ‘di fine, let’s get down with it,” said Pangilinan.
Time, however, is running out as Fiba has set an October 18 deadline for teams to express its intention to play in the Olympic qualifiers that will also have teams from Europe, Americas, and Africa that didn’t made it to Rio.
Despite an impressive performance in Changsha, Pangilinan admitted the chances of Gilas 3.0 topping the Olympic wildcard tournament are 'slim,' adding he doesn’t want to give hopes to the Filipino people.
“Dapat intindihin niyo na ang makakalaban natin sa July 2016 are strong basketball nations. Serbia, Puerto Rico, Greece, France, etc. Tatanawin natin ng utang ng loob ‘yung 2015 Gilas team para bang kung gagawin natin ang cultural trait, rerespetuhin natin ‘yung kanilang pinagsilbihan, it will be the same team for 2015.
“But let’s manage expectations. Matibay talaga ang kalaban doon. Ayoko naman mag-raise ng expectations ang mga tao na makakapasok tayo whereas if we know that our chance of getting in is slim to Rio now, with this same team, the chances are rather slim. Kaya ako reluctant.
“But if it’s the same team, medyo pag-iisipan natin ng mahusay … Tignan natin ‘yung team. What are your chances? ‘Wag naman natin, if you may, goyoin ‘yung mga tao as to our chances. Might as well level with our people and say, ‘Look, same team. Don’t expect much. What for?’”
Regardless of the cost involved, Pangilinan said his group is willing to bid for the hosting of the Olympic qualifier if given the assurance that Gilas can field a 'strong team' in the tournament.
“Pinag-uusapan ‘yung hosting. Hindi naman mura ‘yun. Ngayon, kung malakas ang team ng Pilipinas, then we may support the hosting bid for the wildcard qualifying. Wala akong problema dun. I will support it. Our group will support it, even if I’m out of SBP.
“But it’s got to be a stronger Philippine team. Period,” Pangilinan added.