IT took the intercession of two high-ranking government officials known for their passion for basketball to convince the country’s top cage leaders to reconsider a decision not to send a men’s team to the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia.
The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) admitted Special Assistant to the President Bong Go and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano worked with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) and the PBA in trying to reach a last-minute solution to the issue.
“We’ve been working with two wonderful gentlemen in government in Alan Peter Cayetano, secretary of Foreign Affairs, who is also head of the (2019) Southeast Asian Games, and simply to ask a basketball fan in SAP Bong Go,” said POC president Ricky Vargas, grateful for the help the two extended.
Both Go and Cayetano are avid basketball supporters who also play the game.
League commissioner Willie Marcial disclosed having a meeting with the 44-year-old Go on Saturday.
“Nagkausap kami ni Bong Go. Pinuntahan niya ako mismo at sinabi ko kung ano ang sitwasyon,” Marcial said. “Yun na po, nagkasunud-sunod na yung pangyayari.”
The move came just a day after the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) headed by chairman William ‘Butch’ Ramirez, said it will try to convince the SBP to reconsider its decision not to send a basketball team to the Asiad.
In a separate message, Go added it would be a letdown if no Philippine basketball team will compete in Indonesia.
“Nakapanghihinayan na walang kakatawan sa Pilipinas sa Asian Games, lalo nasa puso ng halos bawat Pilipino ang larong basketball,” said President Duterte’s trusted lieutenant. “Hindi naman mahalaga kung manalo o matalo, basta maipakita natin sa buong mundo na tayo ay lumalaban at hindi basta susuko sa anumang hamon o pagsubok.”
Outside of the two, there were other ‘hands that worked closely’ to come out with the win-win solution, according to Vargas.
The POC president expressed his gratitude to SMC sports director Alfrancis Chua, SBP president Al Panlilio and chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan, POC secretary general Patrick Gregorio, and Marcial.
"We did not give up and worked behind the scene. These are the key people who did not stop hoping," said Vargas.
And then there was SMC team owner Ramon S. Ang, Blackwater's Dioceldo Sy, Congressman Mikee Romero of Globalport, and Rain or Shine co-team owners Raymund Yu and Terry Que.
Of course, the move would't be complete without the support of both the PBA and SBP Boards.
"ito yung mga hindi natulog, we just worked quietly," said Vargas