Gilas Pilipinas will compete in 2018 Asian Games after clamor against withdrawal

August 6, 2018 - 5:24 PM
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SBP president Al Panlilio and PBA chairman Ricky Vargas. (PBA Images)

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas has reversed its previous announcement that it will not be sending a contingent to the basketball tournament of the coming 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia.

The governing body on Philippine basketball unveiled the new lineup just two weeks before the opening of the quadrennial gathering.

Change of heart

The SBP with the Philippine Olympic Committee and Philippine Basketball Association announced the 14-man pool during a joint press conference on Sunday.

Selected to play were Rain or Shine’s Maverick Ahanmisi, Chris Tiu, Gabe Norwood, James Yap, Beau Belga and Raymond Almazan, GlobalPort’s Stanley Pringle, Magnolia’s Paul Lee, Blackwater’s Poy Erram, TNT’s Don Trollano, San Miguel’s Christian Standhardinger, NLEX’s Asi Taulava and Gilas cadets Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero.

NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao was tapped to be head coach while Rain or Shine’s Caloy Garcia will be assistant coach.

The SBP initially withdrew from the Asian Games following the fallout of the brawl that broke out between the Philippines and Australian players in the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers in July 2018.

After nine national team mainstays were suspended by FIBA, the SBP appointed the Rain or Shine Elasto Players to represent the Philippines in the Asian Games instead.

The SBP changed its mind later and announced that it would instead withdraw so as to help the national team appeal the decision of the FIBA Disciplinary Panel.

Despite the flip-flop, the country’s basketball afficionados are celebrating the change of heart and are optimistic for a strong finish in Indonesia.

Some however are wondering about the involvement of a few political names in the process.

Special Assistant to the President Bong Go, Foreign Affairs Secretary Allan Peter Cayetano and Sen. Sonny Angara were mentioned as the government officials who, along with SBP Chairman Emeritus Manuel V. Pangilinan as well as the heads of a number of PBA franchises, reportedly worked to make the decision possible.

“We realized there’s a strong clamor from the basketball fans. And since we’re the house of basketball, we really need to take a look at the clamor and where it is coming from,” said PBA Chairman and POC President Ricky Vargas during the announcement.

With little time left before the start of the competition, the team will undergo a nine-day training session. Their first match will be against rising powerhouse Iran on Aug. 16.