Hope for Gilas on the rise!


It’s easy to understand the laments of National Team Head Coach Chot Reyes on the availability of players for Gilas.

He can only get a player each from the 12 PBA Teams. So he can’t have Japeth Aguilar and Grag Slaughter at the same time? If he is allowed to do so, how will the Ginebra faithful feel considering they have been long-suffering for a title given that their team’s reemergence to relevancy came just about a year ago?

A recent development could actually cure both and could even have a more favorable effect. The development could even finally lead us back to the Olympics and possibly to the National Basketball Association.

If the Philippine basketball stakeholders can stick to patriotism for our country, a recent development could finally lead us back to the Olympics and possibly to the National Basketball Association.

A recent article by Spin.ph reported that “Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. the parent company of the national team’s major sponsor, Chooks to Go, is willing to bankroll a national side if and when it will feature full-time national players”.

The same article quoted Chooks to Go boss Ronald Mascariñas wishing to follow the model of the Northern Consolidated Cement-backed national side in the mid-1980s that featured then top amateur stars who went full-time with the national team.

This would be a welcome development if things go the way of Bounty and Mascariñas.

We know, however, that a lot of things will have to happen if this is to become a reality.

Caveats: first, we don’t definitely want an all-amateur team. We want a truly best and most competitive team, composed of the best and brightest professional players in the country.

Second, we don’t want the national team to drain the talent in the PBA so much that it will downgrade its status and ability to draw fans.

It was always my stand, as I wrote in a two-part series in 2015 when we are still in our first year of publication, that the PBA and the national team’s interests should be both catered and the basketball leaders must have a common stand on this objective.

But the main goal is to have a national team that should be allowed to have the best players in the land and still participate in the PBA in fairness to the league and the Filipino basketball lovers.

My idea was that a new national team will be formed and should be allowed to draft any player from existing PBA teams to compose the team, pay them their exorbitant salaries while under their wing, and be allowed a first cracks at incoming professional cagers.

Here’s how I envisioned it back then:

“My take is a “wild PBA-wide idea” to form the national team. All PBA teams should find a way to sponsor the National team as a regular PBA member and gave the team the same rights given to a regular team, except probably in drafting players.

For instance, they could pool resources to a common fund and use it to spend the salaries of national team players and the coaching and management of the team. In return for the resources spent, they should find a common agreement on how each team brand can be bannered by the national team. Rotation, perhaps. Or simply having the team carry the PBA brand.

To assemble the team, a dispersal draft will be conducted. The new team can select any player from the 12 PBA teams and assume the contracts of some 15 players. This should, more or less, guarantee that the best of the best will be part of the National team. This is the initial team. To level the playing field, or even give the nationals better challenges, the idea of getting Asian imports will be applied in the All-Filipino Conference for the other teams. For the Commissioner’s and the Governor’s Cups, the hiring of imports should be increased to two.

Subsequently, the National team can trade players with the other commercially sponsored teams, negotiate contract extensions with its current players and draft incoming collegiate players. With respect to drafting of players, the national team should have first crack at all draftees to fill-up their 15-man line-up with the best players available. So, for every player they will draft, another would have to be released. The player that would be released is then included in the regular draft, although already not a rookie.

After the national team has finished drafting, the rest of the teams will draft using the current drafting rules, the only difference is the presence of the discarded national players in addition to the rookies made available for the other teams. The teams drafting them will have to assume their contracts signed with the national team”

Half of the difficulty in my original scenario was solved because Bounty Agro Ventures is willing to bankroll the team instead of the pooling of resources. The team should still be allowed to participate as a regular PBA team.

Now to the hard part, how to compensate teams losing franchise faces like San Miguel and Ginebra because they will probably be losing JunMar Fajardo, and Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar, respectively.

While this is true, the national team can only accommodate 15 players, so many talented cagers should still be available for the rest of the teams. Further, both SMB and Ginebra will also have lesser salary obligations and can divert cap space available to get quality imports.

Imagine adding one more top flight import measuring about 7” to Justin Brownlee and the rest of the remaining gins. That should solve the teams’ competitiveness and craving for championships, at the same time giving their respective fan bases something to cheer for. It can also be a way of creating a more permanent home for imports to create better team identity.

The increase in imports will also improve the competitiveness of the games, which will definitely serve as a higher competitive opponent for Gilas in its preparations and could spike scouting interest from NBA teams, thus, increasing the chances of seeing the first Filipino to don an NBA jersey.

Suddenly, my crazy idea then became less foolish than I originally thought it was.