Another brilliant stance by Coach Yeng Guiao and his bunch of World Cuppers is their feeling of “not happy just to be there” relating to their trip to China later this year to face the world’s bests in basketball.
This Gilas Team is hungrier this time, much unlike the time they qualified in 2014 where some of the stars of the Philippines were seemingly star struck that they were going to play against some of the biggest stars in the world and were contented to reach the World Cup.
Some of the Gilas members who went to Spain in 2014 admitted reaching the World Cup was already an achievement in itself and they were satisfied with that.
Not this time, they said.
No sir, they want to win more than just one game, much unlike in 2014 where they manage to take down just Senegal in the six-team preliminary round to be eliminated outright from reaching the round of 16.
They want to beat teams in the World Cup, trying to get out a four-team classification round, they say.
And, I’ve been saying it before, this is the first step to make a good impression when competing among the bests of the worlds, to get noticed in a sport that Filipinos loved to patronize even though they seemingly have an inherent disadvantage by being relatively small.
My thing is, an athlete should not be contented in reaching a goal that is not the highest one available because even if that athlete may not be successful in winning championships all the time, at least that person is not checking out of the competition even before the actual game starts.
Among the preparations suggested by Guiao is participation in the Jones Cup. Also floated are the ideas that the participation of NBA star Jordan Clarkson as a local be sought after and that naturalized Filipino Andre Blatche be allowed to play as an import for the Commissioner’s Cup.
The Clarkson case is now pursued by the SBP, in a silent manner as Gilas Honcho Manny V. Pangilinan said.
Unfortunately, the two other options were thumbed down by the PBA.
Leveling up the Competition in the PBA
The Jones Cup participation would have been a welcome sight but is not really a crippling matter if it is not availed.
It’s the denying of participation of Blatche in the PBA something I don’t get. It is a brilliant idea that could keep Blatche in touch with his Gilas teammates for a longer time. I could even get better if the team will participate as a guest team, just like what has been done before.
Would it not be great if Gilas would be part of the poll of teams that Ginebra San Miguel has to go through in defense of its crown?
The reason for the denial, according to PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial, is the league should maintain parity among teams, which I totally agree with.
No question, parity in a league is desired in order for it to have a good following.
It is the level of talent where parity occurs that I have an issue with.
The parity should occur, with Blatche playing, not by disallowing him to play.
I think it would be a better concept if they let Blatche play for a team who is willing to shell out the money for his services. And allow the other teams to spend as much, if they want, to get similar caliber imports to attain parity.
I know this is easier said than done, due to the the possible economic consequences as pointed out by the PBA, but this option should not be taken out of the table in order for the competition in the league to go up a notch because the cost of leveling up the competition could also result to a corresponding spike in fan, and of course sponsor, interest that could result to a corresponding bigger league and team revenues.
The Petron Blaze Spikers
The case of the Petron Blaze Spikers in the Philippine Super Liga Grand Prix Conference is a good example.
While the presence of imports Katherine Bell and Stephanie Niemer propels Petron to wiping out teams, even the better ones, in straight sets and make them the prohibitive favorites to win the title, it also encourages their teammates to level up their performances to cope up with their more illustrious imports and makes other teams to elevate their play to keep up with them.
It should the problem of other teams to find ways how to neutralize talents such as Bell and Niemer, along with F2 Logistics’ Lindsay Stalzer and Rebecca Perry.
Let them sweat it out figuring how instead of prohibiting talents like them to be hired as imports because these four are generating fan interest that keeps the league be followed.
I can just imagine how fans would react if the PSL would ban Bell and Niemer because it wants other teams to become at par with Petron.
That would be dull as these imports are providing the growing Filipino women volleyball fans entertainment that are seldom seen in Philippine soil before their arrival as well as challenges to local players that they not have experienced before. And they may loss interest in the games.
High-level competition and display of extra-ordinary talent in sports are among the factors that attract fan interest, just saying.
The parity in a league is desirable when it is achieved by increasing the talent level rather than preventing the escalation of it, especially in a league like the PBA where the sources of talent is vast.
The PBA’s stance of disallowing Blatche to suit up as an import is synonymous to preventing the level competition in the PBA to go up and depriving their fans to enjoy action on the floor that may not have been displayed before because the league never has seen a talent like Blatche. It may come costly, but hey, participation in the World Cup doesn’t come everyday.
Joining the World Cup is a rare opportunity
Forty Years. That’s how long it took this basketball-loving country to get back to that stage.
And when we do, it is my opinion that Filipino basketball fans would want our team to beat as many teams as we can and finished at the highest place possible.
When this very rare opportunity comes, the Philippines should make the most out of it. We learned that the hard way in 2014. There are no real victories in close defeats. We still lost those cardiac games and failed to advance.
Among the ways for Gilas to improve its standing is the players and PBA stop setting the barometer of their performance amongst themselves.
How about raising it higher against imports who have NBA starter qualities like Blatche, even for just one conference.
By: ARMANDO M. BOLISLIS
Banner photo by fiba.basketball