PBA commissioner Chito Salud has assured the pro league's full support to the national squad, which will be playing before home fans when the country hosts the Fiba Asia men’s championships this August.
“As early as last year, we’ve already passed a resolution in the board for an all-out support to our Smart Gilas team that will utilize our professional players. We are fully committed to this,” Salud told mediamen during Friday night’s press conference held at the MOA Arena.
Although top players shied away from the Gilas practice over the holidays for the 24th Dubai International tournament, Salud guaranteed that all the PBA team owners are “on board” in helping the national team field the best team possible in the event serving as a qualifier for the 2014 world championships in Spain.
“These (support of other teams) are minor details in the bigger scheme of things because these can be resolved reasonably by team owners. I assure everyone that all the team owners are on board on this,” he added.
Currently, the Smart Gilas 2.0 under coach Chot Reyes has brought in a team made up mostly of cadet pool players and reinforced by just three PBA players - center Jay-Ar Reyes and Ronjay Buenafe of Meralco and KG Canaleta of Air21.
Reyes earlier included Petron’s big star Arwind Santos and top rookie draftee June Mar Fajardo in his wish list but the duo apparently weren’t allowed by SMC management to join the Gilas practice.
For his part, Manny V. Pangilinan said all he could do in his capacity as Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas president is to “appeal to his fellow team owners."
“We can only appeal to the team owners of the PBA since we have no compulsive powers. Now that we’re hosting it, we hope they will, just like what Rain or Shine team owners have said,” said Panglinan, who is expected to spend a fortune for the Fiba Asia hosting.