With the historic Asia Games gold medal run in the just-concluded men's basketball tournament, the next question now is, will the San Miguel Corp. bloc continue supporting the Gilas Pilipinas team in future International competitions?
Gilas team manager Alfrancis Chua, who serves as the SMC sports director, shared that the first thing all basketball stakeholders will have to do at this point is go back to the drawing board and check their respective schedules.
For one, the PBA, according to Chua, already made its own sacrifices by taking a five-month break from competition to give way to Gilas' participation in the 2023 FIBA World Cup and the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.
The PBA also moved its supposed Season 48 opening from Oct. 15 to Nov. 5.
“When we were there (in Hangzhou), I've been telling them (Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas officials) that we have to play now, especially on what's coming up. We have to check the schedules of the PBA, which we all know will run smack with the schedule,” Chua said in press conference held at the PBA office in Libis, Quezon City on Monday, October 9.
The Philippines is bracketed in Group B with New Zealand, Chinese Taipei, along with Hong Kong in the 2025 FIBA Asia Cup, which will be played across three windows beginning in February 2024. The other windows will be held in November 2024, and February 2025 in a home-and-away format.
Chua stressed that asking the PBA again to lend its players won't work since the pro league's own tournament will be ongoing at that point.
“If we are going to ask for PBA players again, that won't work because we have our own league going on at that point,” said Chua, who has been the PBA's most successful sports official after building champion teams with San Miguel, Ginebra and Magnolia, three squads that are under the SMC umbrella.
PBA chairman Ricky Vargas said given this dilemma, a basketball summit should be the next step to ensure all stakeholders, referring to the PBA, along with collegiate leagues like the UAAP and NCAA, could work well and map out a specific plan with the SBP.
Vargas, who serves as TNT's board governor, added that the PBA has made its own share of sacrifices, noting how the pro league's revenue has been affected during what he termed as the “second longest break” in league history.
“This PBA break is the next longest break the PBA has sacrificed, directly affecting our revenues,” said Vargas. “The longest break was the pandemic.”
Chua also reiterated that Tim Cone, who handled Gilas on an interim basis, is determined to simply go back and coach Ginebra after his successful Asian Games stint.
“The guy can't coach this (Gilas) and then coach (in the) PBA. Where can he squeeze in the practices (for Gilas and Ginebra), which is why I tend to agree with chairman (Vargas) that we need to have a summit so we can know the schedules,” Chua added.
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