by Jonas Terrado
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) reversed its decision to withdraw from this month’s Indonesia Asian Games after the PBA agreed to lend six players from other teams to reinforce the Rain or Shine-flavored national squad.
San Miguel Beer’s Christian Standhardinger, GlobalPort’s Stanley Pringle, Magnolia’s Paul Lee, Blackwater’s Poy Erram, NLEX’s Asi Taulava and TNT KaTropa’s Don Trollano were added to the pool after the SBP, PBA Board of Governors and even from Special Assistant to the President Bong Go made last-minute moves to reconsider the stunning withdrawal from Asiad last July 26.
Both the SBP and the PBA were able to find solutions after the national federation and the pro league were met with criticism by fans who hoped to see the Philippines play in the quadrennial meet.
“We realized that there was a strong clamor from our basketball fans and since we are the house of basketball, we need to take a look at it and understand what that clamor was and where it was coming from,” Philippine Olympic Committee President and PBA Chairman Ricky Vargas said during a press conference held before Game 5 of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Also present in the press conference were SBP President Al Panlilio and Executive Director Sonny Barrios, PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial, San Miguel Corporation sports director Alfrancis Chua, PBA Governors Robert Non of San Miguel, Mamerto Mondragon of Rain or Shine, Erick Arejola of GlobalPort and Silliman Sy of Blackwater.
NLEX coach Yeng Guiao will call the shots for the national team with Rain or Shine mentor Caloy Garcia serving as his assistant.
Guiao said the team will hold its first practice on Monday at the Meralco gym, with plans to finalize its 12-man roster for the Asiad before heading to Jakarta on Aug. 14.
Other members of the 14-man pool are Rain or Shine’s Gabe Norwood, Chris Tiu, James Yap, Raymond Almazan, Maverick Ahanmisi and Beau Belga and Gilas Cadets’ Ricci Rivero and Kobe Paras.
“Time is really short even when we first planned this,” Guiao admitted. “One reason why the core of Rain or Shine was included because these guys are familiar with me. There are six other guys from other teams but I think kaya natin i-jell yung mga players na manggaling sa labas.”
The Asian Games is set Aug. 18 to Sept. 2 but the national cagers will start their campaign two days before the formal opening.
The Philippines is placed in Group B along with Iran, Syria and the United Arab Emirates. The top two teams in the group advance to the quarterfinals.