MANILA – Although he hasn't been seen attending professional and collegiate basketball games, the country’s chief executive is a big basketball fan.
A Palace official told local basketball officials that President Benigno Aquino III keeps tabs on developments relating to Smart Gilas Pilipinas.
According to PBA.ph, Executive Secretary Jojo Ochoa met with PBA commissioner Chito Salud, league operations chief Rickie Santos, media bureau chief Willie Marcial, Smart Gilas coach Chot Reyes and team manager Butch Antonio at the Palace.
Ochoa told the basketball officials that President Aquino wishes Gilas well as the Philippine national team prepares for the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship, the qualifier for the 2014 FIBA World Cup.
“ES Ochoa made it clear the President is interested in the developments in the national team and in sports itself,” said Salud.
Salud said Palace officials inquired about the development in the formation of the national team.
“[But] at the same time, he (Ochoa) made it clear they have no intention to meddle and interfere. They invited us to a meeting out of pure interest and concern,” he added.
After the meeting, Salud and Reyes promised to visit Malacañang once the new 20-man national pool is formed.
Salud and Reyes earlier agreed to revise the roster of his training squad.
Reyes was given a chance to pick players outside of the lineup used in the recent Jones Cup and FIBA Asia Cup.
The national team coach wanted to get Marc Pingris, Arwind Santos and Junmar Fajardo and several other players who could reinforce certain spots in the squad.
“To reaffirm the PBA’s commitment to help, the league is bending its rule backward, allowing Smart Gilas to submit a revise 20-man pool,” said Salud.
“But all steps to be taken should be based on the resolution unanimously approved by the board. Yes, you can use the pro players. But the condition is clear, there will be no disruption in the PBA schedule,” Salud also said.