Pinoy basketball legend Ramon Fernandez hopes the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) will stick to the current set up of sending a younger Gilas Pilipinas squad to international competitions.
Fernandez said he was pleased with the performance of the new breed of Gilas which beat South Korea twice in the recent FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers.
“Palagay ko, itong mga bata na ang ipadala natin. Not for anything else but this is thinking long-term. Kung ‘yung mga bata natin i-expose natin sa ganung level of competition, siguradong magi-improve ‘yan,” he said during the Philippine Sports Writers Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday.
Not that he doesn't favor fielding a PBA-backed squad. Fernandez explained it will be good to stick to the young guns who will focus solely in training for FIBA competitions.
“‘Yung sa mga PBA players naman, magi-improve din sana sila, but hindi kagaya ng improvement nitong mga kabataan na ‘to. Medyo may katigasan na ang buto at muscle ng mga PBA players natin,” said Fernandez, the current commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission.
Fernandez, who was part of the Philippines' 1973 Asian Basketball Confederation championship team, said this practice should have been done a long time ago as it is tough for national teams to train consistently especially when they utilize professional players.
“We experienced it already na mahirap talaga kumuha ng athletes from the pro ranks to play for the national team,” Fernandez said.
“Kaya nga nag-umpisa ‘yung PBA eh. Because sa panahon namin, kinukuha kami ng basketball federation at that time, from our mother teams. So, nadi-distract ‘yung calender ng MICAA (Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association).
“So history will repeat itself. It seems we never learn from history eh. ‘Yun ang naging problema. So I’m really glad na itong mga batang ‘to ang ipadala roon.”