PHILIPPINE Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Richie Garcia said he is not in favor of a plan to pull Gilas Pilipinas out of the Asian Games' basketball competition in the wake of Incheon organizers' decision to disqualify its naturalized player Andray Blatche.
Garcia, who is also the country’s chef de mission for the Asiad, said he hopes the Blatche eligibility row won't end with Gilas boycotting the Incheon Games, adding he feels the Philippines can still win the gold medal even without its top big man.
“Hopefully, there is no such thing as boycott dahil buo ang puso natin, tapos tatakbo tayo,” Garcia said. “Kung laban, Pilipino naman tayo, ilaban natin.”
Blatche was disallowed by the Incheon Asian Games Organizing Committee (Iagoc) from playing for Gilas in the Asiad by citing a contentious three-year residency rule on naturalized players culled from the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) by-laws.
Iagoc stood firm on its decision even after world basketball body Fiba backed the position of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) saying Blatche is eligible because he has been allowed to represent the country in the last Fiba World Cup.
Garcia said he is confident the Blatche issue won't lead to Gilas pulling out of the Games, adding SBP chairman Ricky Vargas had pointed out in a statement that a boycott is the last of three options being considered by the SBP leadership.
“I think the media took it out of context in the sense na SBP are studying three options. One option is to appeal, which is what we are going to do. The second option is ‘yung appeal for replacement ni Blatche and ang papalitan ni (Marcus) Douthit. ‘Yung third option na kung hindi, baka possibility of huwag na sila maglaro," he said.
“Sa tatlong option, ‘yung number three ang pinakita. Hindi pa nga natapos ‘yung first two options,” Garcia added.
Garcia said SBP's decision to mull a possible boycott may have been borne by emotions.
“I feel that it won’t go to that (boycott). Sometimes, you react ng ganun, ‘yun pala, wala ka namang balak na mag-boycott. Pero sa frustration minsan, nagkakaroon ka ng ganung reason,” Garcia said.
Garcia reiterated that the PSC and the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) will exhaust all means to have Blatche in the team or Douthit as a replacement during the Asiad registration meeting on Wednesday.
The PSC chairman will leave for Incheon on Wednesday to attend the meeting.
“We will exhaust everything that is why pupunta ako bukas para ipaglaban namin (ang SBP position),” said Garcia.