PHILIPPINE basketball legend Ramon Fernandez said he was saddened by the result of Gilas Pilipinas’ campaign in the 31st Southeast Asian Games where the team failed to win basketball gold for the first time in over three decades.
Mon Fernandez on Gilas letdown
Appearing in SPIN.ph's Zoom In podcast on Friday, the four-time PBA MVP said the Philippines must send the best available basketball talent to future SEA Games to reassert its dominance against a vastly improved opposition.
“Of course, nakakalungkot,” said Fernandez, a commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC)who was at hand for the basketball final between Gilas Pilipinas and Indonesia in his capacity as chef de mission of the Philippine delegation.
Gilas Pilipinas lost, 85-81, to settle for the silver medal, the first time since 1989 that the country failed to win the SEA Games title.
“Nalulungkot rin ako na natalo tayo sa Indonesia. But ‘yung first game pa lang ng Philippines against Thailand, makikita mo na agad na nag-improve na talaga ang talent nila especially Thailand and Indonesia,” said Fernandez, a member of the Philippine team that won the ABC Championship, now Fiba Asia Cup, in 1973.
Fernandez also noted the fact that Indonesia is building up for the Fiba Basketball World Cup 2023. It needs to finish in the top eight in the Fiba Asia Cup 2022 in order to qualify despite being a co-host of the showcase with the Philippines and Japan.
Fernandez said the ball is now in the hands of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to address the debacle, but adds he hopes that the SBP could assemble the best possible team and give it ample time to prepare for the SEA Games.
“Nasa SBP na ‘yan, but as I’ve said in other interviews, hindi na puwedeng maliitin ang SEA Games as far as basketball competition is concerned. Hindi na puwede tayong magpadala ng college players kasi nag-improve na talaga sila.
“Kailangan lang talaga, preparation. I would say preparation plus come up with the best possible line-up. ‘Yung pinakamalakas na line-up na ilagay natin.
I don’t know how SBP will do that. Meron na silang good working relationship with the PBA. They have to prepare. Maski two months for the tournament, kaya na sa ganung quality players na sasali sa national team,” Fernandez said.
Asked if Gilas head coach Chot Reyes should step down or not, the basketball great said he is leaving the decision to the SBP but urged the veteran coach to seize the opportunity if given a shot at redemption.
“Try his best to prepare the team. That’s all he can do right now and prove his critics wrong. As I said, it’s a thankless job. All you have to do is try to get the best talents. For one, start with that, and pray hard,” Fernandez said.
Watch the full Spin Zoom In episode below.