VIEW FROM THE OUTFIELD: Losing without a fight

neil bravo

“I don’t want to send a token team.”

Those are the words of Manny V. Pangilinan, basketball patron and president emeritus of the Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas (SBP) on the mounting clamor for the Philippines to send a basketball team to the Asian Games this month in Indonesia.

MVP stuck to the SBP’s stand to forego taking part in the Asiad. It wants to pursue an appeal to the FIBA on the recent flurry of suspensions thrown the way of the Philippines after the infamous brawl at the Philippine Arena against Australia.

I surmised based on MVP’s pronouncements, there is no better team than the one formed for the World Cup Qualifiers. No substitute for quality, so to speak.

Oh, so that’s how our basketball leaders think. Just because we lost nine players and two coaches to suspensions, we must defer going to the Asian Games?

I find it sickening.

You see, after the incident against Australia, Philippine basketball’s image has been badly tarnished. It would have been a rebounding event had we sent a team to the Asiad and they go out there fighting with their brand of “puso” basketball.

The withdrawal instead further pushed us down.

The SBP’s mandate is to form a national training pool for call-up “at any given time” for the national team. The pool apparently has 24 players whose names are submitted to the regional FIBA.

Likewise, SBP also formed the Cadets pool where the promising young cagers from the collegiate ranks train under the same basketball system of the Gilas Pilipinas. The purpose of the Cadets pool is to prepare them for national duty. It will also provide for the buffer in case the national team needs young blood.

So what’s the problem here? Why can’t the SBP trust its developmental players and the remaining Gilas alternates to suit up for national duty?

Reading the SBP people’s minds, they do not want to risk going for the Cadets.

So what’s the use of the national pool and the Cadets pool f you can’t use them in case you lose so many wheels?

I do not buy the reason that the SBP’s taking a stand on its appeal to the FIBA sanctions that’s keeping them from playing. Simply put, they cannot put up an alternate team because they are simply afraid to lose and be criticized.

In sports, if you think you will lose even before the game starts, you do not have a place in sports. Go, do something else.

Don’t give us that crap that you do not want to send a token team.

Remember the Olympic motto espoused by Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin? “The most important thing is not to win but taking part.”

It is not the people’s fault to expect a lot from the basketball body to put up a team. Afterall, that’s what they have been harping for—a steady supply of basketball talents to play for the flag.

By comparison, USA Basketball and the NBA have the entire players in the league ready to be tapped depending on the tools needed by the designated coach.So if Lebron James or Kawhi Leonard decide not to play, there are still an array of available talents.

The SBP has the PBA as its partner. And that means it also has practically the PBA players who are ready to be picked.

The talents abound. They’re like apples from a vast farm. Just go and pick what you like or what you need.

Whether we send the Team A Gilas or a token team to the Asiad, the chances of winning are still the same.

You never win unless you take part.