DESPITE the country's dominance in basketball in the region, Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco said cage officials must prove that their team is a cinch for a gold medal in the 2013 Southeast Asian Games before becoming part of the Myanmar-bound delegation.
Cojuangco has insisted that a PBA-backed Gilas Pilipinas squad should be sent to the biennial meet in Myanmar. In the event the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas insists otherwise, he said the body should prove the team worthy of a ticket to Myanmar before the SEAG Task Force.
“That is my position,” said Cojuangco. “But if they can prove to me na ‘yung ganitong mga players na ito, kaya na.”
The Philippines has Southeast Asian basketball for so long, winning the men’s basketball gold medal in all the SEA Games editions with the exception of 1989 where they lost to Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur.
In all those tournaments, never was an all-pro team sent to represent the country.
But Cojuangco feels that the Philippines is becoming increasingly vulnerable in Southeast Asian play, pointing out that Philippine teams are no longer as dominant in Seaba tournaments and the Asean Basketball League even though Filipinos are being hired as imports in the regional league.
“Noong araw, kayang-kaya natin. Pero maski sa Seaba at sa ABL, natatalo na tayo. We don’t know what kind of opponent we are getting,” said Cojuangco.
The POC chief said that it will be a “real debacle” if the Philippines lost in the men’s basketball competition, a sport closest to the hearts of Filipinos.
“Kaysa pagpunta natin doon, inaasahan tayo tapos matatalo tayo. ‘Yun ang debacle,” Cojuangco said.
Backed by an all-amateur squad coached by Norman Black, the Philippine team romped to the gold in the Jakarta 2011 SEA Games against several countries who have professional players from the ABL in the roster.