THE Philippines can’t simply play tit for tat with Chinese Taipei as far as its participation in the Fiba-Asia Men’s Basketball Championship is concerned.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) executive director Sonny Barrios stressed the country can’t deny the Taiwanese of their right to see action in the World Basketball Championship qualifier to be held in Manila three months from now since they qualified for the August 1-11 biennial meet.
Unlike the William Jones Cup basketball tournament which is by invitation, slots in the Fiba-Asia event are earned through regional qualifiers, Barrios pointed out.
“Dapat nating tandaan na ang Chinese Taipei (ay) qualifier,” said Barrios. “Hindi natin puwedeng sabihin na `hindi kami nakasali sa Jones Cup, huwag na rin kayong sumali. Mali yun.”
Chinese-Taipei clinched a slot in the Fiba-Asia tournament after earning the fifth and final berth in the 3rd East Asia Basketball Association tournament held in Incheon, Korea two weeks ago. Along with the Taiwanese, others who qualified are South Korea, defending champion China, Japan, and Hong Kong.
On Monday, SBP received a formal letter addressed to Manny V. Pangilinan from organizers of the Jones Cup cage meet revoking their earlier invitation for the national team to see action in the annual tournament following the strain in the relationship of the two countries.
The letter, according to Barrios, only tackled the Gilas participation in the Jones Cup and not in any way mentioned a possible withdrawal of Taipei in the Fiba-Asia meet.
“Hindi natin sila pupuwedeng pangunahan sa desisyon nila na sumali o hindi sa Fiba-Asia,” Barrios stressed. “Kapag ginawa natin `yun, Fiba naman ang makakalaban natin. Mabigat `yun.”
Following the latest development, Barrios now wants all basketball stakeholders to focus more on what course of action Gilas Pilipinas will take next as far as its preparation for the Fiba-Asia meet is concerned.
“Yun ang mas importanteng tanong ngayon. Ano ang ipapalit nating tournament lalo’t napaka critical ng Jones Cup for our preparation,” said Barrios of the only major pre-Fiba Asia tournament the Philippines had calendared.
“I’m sure pinag-aaralan na ni coach Chot (Reyes) yun. Sana before they leave for Lithuania, mayroon nang pwedeng ipalit,” added Barrios. “Sayang ang ganda na sana ng timetable nila.”