WIN the basketball gold in the 30th Southeast Asian Games in Manila at all cost.
This is the marching order made by Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Ricky Vargas as he reiterated the need to field an all-PBA team to the biennial event scheduled Nov. 30-Dec. 11 in Manila to ensure the gold medal in the sport closest to the Filipinos’ heart.
With the country hosting the SEA Games for only the fourth time, Vargas said there is no room for error as far as the basketball competition is concerned.
“Of course, we want the best to represent our country in the SEA Games that we are hosting later this year,” said Vargas, who is also the PBA board chairman, during the formal media launch of the 44 th season of the PBA at the Conrad Hotel in Pasay City last Tuesday.
“We want our best players to represent our team in the Sea Games. Syempre, ayaw natin na masilat tayo in front of our kababayans,” added Vargas.
Vargas said Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and even Vietnam are eager to come to Manila and beat the Philippines in basketball right infront of the home crowd.
The Filipinos have not lost the basketball gold since 1991 -- the same year the country also served as host of the SEA Games.
Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia are three of the Filipinos’ biggest challengers in basketball, with the Malaysians getting the distinction of having beaten the Filipinos twice already – in 1979 in Jakarta, and 1989 in Kuala Lumpur.
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial supported Vargas’ decisionto send an all_PBA team and reiterated the PBA’s commitment to support the team by even taking a break to give way to the SEAG.
Marcial said he doesn’t see any negative response from the board once the league chair officially makes a request for PBA players to play for the country in SEAG.
Vargas, who was elctd to a second term as PBA chairman, said a part of the PBA thrusts is looking at a program to see how the league can be of better help to the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).
The PBA is a member of the national cage federation, headed by Al Panlilio of Meralco as president.
Marcial said the PBA is also taking a break by the third week of February to give way to Gilas Pilipinas’ last two games in the FIBA World Cup qualifier.
Marcial said the PBA will also take a break should the Filipinos make the 2019 World Cup in China. Meanwhile, eight of the 12 PBA teams have already announced the names of their muses for the coming PBA Season 44.
Leading the cast are 2016 Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach, who will join crowd favorite Barangay Ginebra during the colorful opening ceremony, and Binibining Pilipinas International 2016 Kylie Verzosa, who will join PBA Al-Filipino champion San Miguel Beer.
Multi-awarded actress-singer Sharon Cuneta, will be the team muse of newly-crowned PBA Governors’ Cup champion Magnolia Pambansang Manok.
The other muses and their respective teams are ABS CBN actress Yam Concepcion (Phoenix Petroleum), GMA talent Klea Pineda (Alaska Milk), Model Aya Fernandez (NorthPort) and volleyball stars Alyssa Valdez (NLEX) and Michelle Gumabao (Blackwater).
Four teams – Meralco, Talk n Text, Columbian and Rainor Shien – have yet to announce the names of their muses.
Ginebra and Talk N Text will clash in the opening game at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan on Jan.13.