From a certain point of view, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) may have a point in deciding to withdraw the national men’s basketball team aka Gilas Pilipinas from the overall Philippine athletic delegation to the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang. The team was still reeling from the brawl with their Australian counterparts during the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers, plus the FIBA suspensions to a majority of the players taking up multiple games. However, one voice does not think it is a good idea to make Gilas sit out the Asiad: the country’s athletic delegation head.
CNN Philippines reports that Richard Gomez, the head of delegation for the Filipino participants to the 2018 Asian Games, is of the opinion that the SBP should not have held back the national men’s basketball team from the competition. In addition to allowing Gilas Pilipinas to regroup following its string of bad luck, the Philippine governing body for basketball in the country was also making preparations to appeal the sanctions put on the team by FIBA, something Australia, which also received game suspensions, was not planning to do. Gomez opines it should not matter if Gilas is hobbled by the sanctions when appearing in the Asiad; it simply just has to participate in the games.
While being interviewed by CNN Sports Desk just this Tuesday, July 31, Richard Gomez remarked on his proposal to field the men’s basketball team, “Win or lose, I really feel they should still send athletes to the Asian Games, but that is the decision of the management of the SBP, and with that regard we have to give respect to that.” He adds that, since the SBP needs to send a letter announcing Gilas’ withdrawal from the Asiad to the Olympic Council of Asia to make it official, the team can go with the RP delegation before that takes place.
Gomez, currently Mayor of Ormoc City and an accomplished sportsman (Gold Medalist for Men’s Team Epee, SEA Games 2005), spoke of the morale boost that having the country’s basketball team take part in international tournaments no matter their current state of readiness may be. In the 2014 Asian Games in Korea, the team had finished 7th overall. “The Philippines is a basketball fanatic country,” he said. “It will always be nice to have a representative to the Asian Games. It would be nice for Filipinos to watch our basketball players engage in the Asian Games.”
Image courtesy of Journal Online