WITH time ticking away, it is imperative for the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) to be at the forefront in the formation of the Gilas Pilipinas program in close coordination with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).
Former Team Pilipinas manager JB Baylon stressed the point on Saturday following the SBP’s decision to reboot the Gilas Pilipinas program with barely 10 months before China hosts the Fiba Asia championships serving as the qualifier for the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics.
For this reason, the former Powerade board of governor is encouraging the SBP to allow the PBA to take the lead in the running of the Gilas program.
“We are almost running out of time. Imagine September ang Fiba Asia and while other countries already have their teams to utilize, here we are re-evaluating our team,” Baylon, who once served as vice chairman of the PBA board, told Spin.ph.
Now the vice president for corporate affairs of Nickel Asia, Baylon believes that the complete backing of the PBA will guarantee that Gilas can put together the best team possible for the Fiba Asia meet.
“Let's face it. The PBA has the main pool of our best players today. So it's very important that each and every family member of the PBA bites into the program... Otherwise, magkaka-problema ka,” he said.
“The Gilas 1 program was great. Kaso dapat sustained yun eh. But with a timeframe so short, I'd rather go for the PBA (players to the national pool),” added Baylon, who’s also known as a political adviser.
The former basketball executive recalled how he was able to get the support of all PBA teams during the time he served as team manager of Powerade Team Pilipinas that competed in the 2009 Fiba Asia Championship in Tianjin, China with Rain or Shine’s Yeng Guiao as coach.
Baylon rattled off the players which comprised his team, among them league MVPs James Yap, Willie Miller, Jayjay Helterbrand, and Asi Taulava, Sonny Thoss, Kerby Raymundo, Mick Pennisi, Jarred Dillinger, Japeth Aguilar, Gabe Norwood, Cyrus Baguio, and Arwind Santos with Ryan Reyes, Wynne Arboleda, and Ranidel De Ocampo as reserves.
“The first step there (2009 team) was the PBA chose the coach. And when the PBA chooses the coach... There is no way the PBA will not be supportive of the coach,” he said when asked how he was able to rally the full support of all member teams.
“That's why we were very fortunate that we (Powerade Team Pilipinas) were able to get the best of the best from all the teams. Hindi naging problema dun yung, ‘Hindi namin pwedeng ipahiram si ganito, si ganun,’ kasi all the teams supported the chosen coach,” he said.
“So if you ask me. I think that approach should revisited by our basketball officials because that is how things should be worked out,” Baylon added.
He also said an all-pro national team is still a necessity especially with the Olympic qualifier just around the corner.
“Wala na tayong oras eh. The all amateurs, if they are bent on strengthening it, siguro sa next major tournaments yun. Not next year. And it must be sustained,” he said.
Baylon, the first and only team manager responsible for steering the UP Maroons to a UAAP championship, also said he felt the Gilas Pilipinas squad under coach Chot Reyes lack some players in key areas during its campaign in both the Fiba World Cup and Asiad.
“Ako kasi personally, feeling ko sa last Gilas... it wasn't the best team. Because there are some players from other teams, for one reason or another did not become part of the roster,” he noted.
“For example, may mga punto tayo sa laro na kailangan sana ang isang Marcio Lassiter or James Yap or a Sonny Thoss, and Asi Taulava. May instance sa mga laro natin kailangan sana ng Marcio or James Yap. But they weren't there,” Baylon said.
The Powerade Team Pilipinas under Baylon managed to make the quarterfinals of the Fiba Asia Championship five years ago and eventually finished in eighth place.