Former national coach Yeng Guiao said the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas victory in the 34th William Jones Cup will give the PBA and all of local basketball a big boost.
“It’s good for the PBA and good for Philippine basketball,” said Guiao in a telephone interview with InterAKTV. “Everytime na mananalo tayo ng championship, such as Jones Cup, mas na-bu-boost yung awareness nila sa PBA and they treat the players like heroes.”
SMART-Gilas won the Jones Cup for the first time since 1998, when the Philippine Centennial Team swept the competition. SMART-Gilas coach Chot Reyes was Tim Cone’s chief assistant in the Centennial Team, which is the last Philippine squad to win a medal in a high-level Asian competition, winning the bronze in the Asian Games that year.
The SMART-Gilas victory is seen as the latest win for Philippine basketball, which has been enjoying a resurgence this past year. Last season, the PBA posted record television viewership and gate receipts.
The Jones Cup tournament marked the return of a team composed mainly of PBA players competing for the flag. The league earlier committed lending 16 players to the national pool, which would form the core of the program’s elite team.
Earlier, PBA commissioner Chito Salud hailed SMART-Gilas for the championship.
“Our country has just taken a giant step toward reestablishing our rightful place among the top powers in Asia,” he said. “I am extremely happy for the boys and the fans and proud of Philippine basketball.”
Guiao said the Philippine program should concentrate on regaining supremacy in Asia.
“Huwag na muna nating isipin yung world championship,” said Guiao. “Isipin muna natin yung FIBA Asia and how we can assert ourselves back as contender. Once we start beating China, then that’s the only time we can think about the world championship.”
SMART-Gilas is preparing to compete in next year’s FIBA Asia Championship, where three seats are up for grabs for the 2014 FIBA World Cup.
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