THE PLDT group has closed the door on the possibility of putting up a team in the Asean Basketball League in the immediate future, saying it intends to focus its attention and resources on Gilas Pilipinas' stint in the Fiba World Cup and the Asian Games next year.
Al Panlilio, president of the MVP Sports Foundation, admitted that the group has tinkered with the idea of putting up an ABL team after a proposal from the regional league reached Manny V. Pangilinan's desk.
[For full story, see Expansion team eyed as MVP group meets with ABL executives]
However, that plan has been shelved in light of Gilas' qualification to next year's Fiba World Cup in Spain as well as other commitments of the national team that require the group's focus and resources, Panlilio said.
“There was a proposal that came from the ABL (people) themselves that was also sent to Boss MVP, but maybe in the future we can take a look at it. But not now,” said Panlilio.
“We reviewed it, it became an option … Tinignan namin pero sabi nga namin, 'Yung national team muna,'” Panlilio added. “We took a look at it but we felt, not at this time. We felt we would want to focus our resources first on the effort of our Gilas team in the World Cup and Asian Games.”
As it is, the MVP Sports Foundation already has its hands full with all the sports programs - both in basketball and other sports - that it has been supporting, the good-looking executive said.
“Ang haba ng schedule namin for the national team program. Remember, we have the world championships in Spain next year,” said Panlilio, who is also senior vice-president and head for senior retail services of Meralco.
“Marami na kaming pinag-gagastusan eh. As a company, andami na naming tinutulungan. We take care of teams not just in the PBA, but also in the collegiate league.
“As we all know, we’re gearing up for Spain. That’s a long program. Not just Spain, there’s also the Asian Games. Lahat yan nakatuhog eh."
Panlilio stressed that Pangilinan wants to make sure Gilas will do well not just in the Fiba World Cup but also in the Asiad in Incheon, South Korea.
“We are also focusing on being successful in Spain. Ayaw ni Boss MVP na pumunta dun as tourist lang, our aim there is to win and make it to the Top 16,” he stressed.
In fact, Panlilio is set to fly to Iran on Wednesday to supervise the campaign of the Philippine team that will compete in the 2013 Fiba-Asia Under-16 championships.
“Like this team, we are also supporting the Under-16 na,” Panlilio bared while pointing to the juniors club that was previously supported by Nokia and Energen.
With the MVP group not likely to enter a team in the next two years, the ABL may find itself without a team in the biggest basketball market in Southeast Asia amid reports that reigning champion San Miguel Beer is also planning to pull out of the league.
[For full story, see Major setback for ABL as San Miguel weighs pullout]
SMC officials have yet to make an announcement on the issue, with one official saying only that the company is still in the process of reviewing its continued participation in the league.