The current generation of PBA superstars was not yet born when the Philippines hosted and won its last Asian’s basketball championships in 1973 in Manila.
Robert Jaworski, Bogs Adornado, Mon Fernandez, Manny Paner, Jimmy Mariano, and the late Tembong Melencio bannered the RP squad that ruled the Asian championships (now known as Fiba Asia men’s championships) against the Shin Dong Pa-led South Korea at the Araneta Coliseum.
PBA commissioner Chito Salud on Friday night press conference at the MOA Arena, told media men that the pro league is determined to help national coach Chot Reyes form the most competitive squad that will play before home fans in this August’s Fiba Asia men’s championships.
With less than seven months left to prepare, Reyes and his coaching staff will be in a race for time to come up with the best possible team that would compete against Asia’s best national squads led by reigning champion China, Iran and even Jordan.
China has won 15 of the last 19 Fiba Asia men’s championships since 1975, dominating the biennial contest with impunity. On the other hand, Iran won the 2007 and 2009 edition, while Jordan placed second in 2011.
The task of winning or at least finishing in the top three would be next to impossible if some of the PBA’s top players led by Petron’s Arwind Santos and June Mar Fajardo along with James Yap and Marc Pingris of San Mig Coffee won’t be around to play for the country.
These four have been in Reyes’ wish list for the national team though they haven’t showed up recently as San Mig Corp. management appears not keen on lending them. Of course, Yap and Pingris weren’t available since San Mig Coffee was then busy in its semifinal series versus Rain or Shine.
While the presence of these four superstars under the SMC umbrella may not necessarily guarantee an Asian championship, I think it would be a disservice to our country if they don’t play and be given a chance contribute to the Philippines’ bid to regain lost glory right at our home soil.