Pros for SEA Games is the only option

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By Al S. Mendoza

All Write

Saturday, July 20, 2013

I GO with Richie Garcia and Peping Cojuangco. By hook or by crook, the basketball gold must be secured in the Myanmar SEA Games on Dec. 11-22.

Of all the events to be contested in the biennial meet, winning the gold in basketball should be non-negotiable.

It’s like in the UAAP cagefest: Ateneo can lose to all the teams it will meet in the 8-school tournament except De La Salle.


That’s the same battle cry for De La Salle, thus ensuring a fierce battle between the two since time immemorial to include their classic duels when they were still in the NCAA.

“Let’s take this seriously,” said Cojuangco, the president of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC). “Our opponents might be getting players from China, or naturalizing tall Americans to beat us in basketball.”

It’s scary, but that could happen, given that sports has become global.

Cojuangco has recognized that times, indeed, are changing.

Even commercial tournaments like the NBA has made it a habit now to recruit players from outside the US.

Didn’t San Antonio have four French players, led by the spitfirish Tony Parker, in the last NBA season so that, obviously, the ploy reaped immeasurable rewards as the Spurs sped all the way to the 2013 NBA Finals?

“Before, we can go easy in the SEA Games and still win the basketball gold,” said Cojuangco. “It’s different now.”

We have swept all basketball gold medals in the SEA Games since its incepcion in 1977, except in 1989 when Malaysia upset us in Kuala Lumpur.

The SBP (Samahang Basketbbol sa Pilipinas) is keen on sending a collegiate team to Myanmar, although that could still change as the deadline for the submission of lineups is in October yet.

Garcia, the Philippine Sports Commission chair, has repeatedly said we should field the Gilas Pilipinas competing in the Fiba Asia Cup Aug. 1-11 to the December Games.

So passionate is Richie in raising that call he is willing to defend it at Plaza Miranda.

“We can only think of winning the basketball gold,” Garcia said. “Losing it because we failed to send our best would be painful.”

Well said, Richie. I have nothing more to add to that.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 21, 2013.


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