THERE is no doubt everybody wants to beat the Philippines in the Southeast Asian Games cage competition.
With the Philippines hosting the biennial meet for the fourth time, the motivation among the Filipinos’ basketball foes – notably Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand – to give the hosts stiff opposition can only be a lot bigger.
That being the case, there is no room for the host team to leave things to chances.
That’s why, Philippine Olympic Committee president Ricky Vargas wants an all-pro team to represent the country in basketball competition which the country has ruled with iron hand for 12 straight time beginning in 1991 which happened to be in Manila also.
“Of course, we want the best to represent our country in the SEA Games that we’re hosting,” said Vargas, who is also the PBA board chairman.
Vargas made his manifestation during last Tuesday’s official launch of PBA Season 44 at Conrad Hotel in Pasay City.
“We want the best representation from Philippine basketball. At syempre, ayaw natin masilat in front of our kababayans,” stressed Vargas.
The SEAG is set Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, and the Philippines will be gunning to retain the title it won over Indonesia during the regional sports spectacle’s last edition in Jakarta in 2017.
Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia are three of the Filipinos’ frequent challengers in basketball, with the Malaysians having the distinction of putting one over on the Filipinos twice already – in 1979 in Jakarta, and 1989 in Kuala Lumpur.
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial, meanwhile, made it clear that the PBA is committed to taking a break for the SEAG.
According to Marcial, 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 is serving as PBA chair for the second straight season, 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.
The PBA is a member of the national cage federation headed by Meralco executive Al Panlilio as president.
Marcial said the PBA is taking a break by the third week of February to give way to Gilas Pilipinas’ last two games in the FIBA World Cup qualifier.
The league commissioner said the PBA is also stopping play should Team Philippines make the 2019 World Cup in China.