MANILA, Philippines -- NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao believes there is a place for basketball players to use their platforms and speak out on their advocacies in the Philippines, for as long as they are certain of their commitment.
Speaking on "Power and Play" with former PBA commissioner Noli Eala recently, Guiao expressed his support for the players who have become vocal about social issues and have become more outspoken, particularly on their own social media accounts.
"Palagay ko, napakalaki ng potential," said Guiao, a former head coach of the Philippine national team, when asked about players and even coaches using their voices for issues other than sports.
"Ayaw ko sabihin na kulang pa, because I think it's also partly cultural, na ang mga players natin, ang mga coaches natin, baka ang feeling nila, ito lang kami, dito lang kami sa basketball," he added.
"But I think they can speak out and use their platform for some other social advocacies or political advocacies, whatever it is."
In recent months, Filipino-American players in the PBA have lent their voices to the protests in the United States, where the killing of black men by police sparked demonstrations in several states.
Players like Chris Ross, Chris Newsome, and Joe Devance, as well as Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone, all made their stand clear, with Cone in particular criticizing the leadership in the United States that led to a "despicable culture."
Closer to home, former Ginebra center Greg Slaughter expressed his concern about the controversial Anti-Terror Bill.
Guiao, who formerly served as a vice-governor of Pampanga, understands why most players in the Philippines are reluctant to speak out on political and social issues. This is in contrast to the situation in the United States, where players are using their voices to call for justice and change.
At the moment, NBA players have decided not to push through in the playoff games scheduled for Thursday (Manila time), in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Wisconsin. The protests spread to other leagues, with baseball games also being cancelled. Naomi Osaka withdrew from her semifinal in the WTA Western & Southern Open.
"Sa NBA, maski na sa football, maski na sa baseball, a lot of players and coaches are already doing it... Siguro culturally, 'yung democracy sa kanila, mas napa-practice nila 'yung kanilang mga freedoms," Guiao theorized.
"Sa atin kasi... parang masaya na 'ko, maganda 'yung sweldo ko, maganda trabaho ko. Kung meron mang nakikita tayo na mga ibang tao diyan, not as privileged as us, well maybe we'll help in some other way, pero hindi ako makikialam sa mga issues," he added.
But he believes that if the PBA players learn to be more vocal about their advocacies, it will be positive for the league. Guiao believes the players can have some impact on the conversation regarding social issues.
"I think it will be good for the PBA, for the country, if players have some advocacies, whether it's political, social, whether it's about environment, climate change, whether it's about cruelty to animals or whatever, I think maganda 'yun. I think it makes you a better person, a well-rounded person," he said.
What's crucial for Guiao is that the players have to have conviction. And they have to be educated -- he wants them to know what they are fighting for.
"Ang importante lang dito, kailangan sa isip mo't sa puso mo, alam mo na tama ka. Ang hirap ng naga-advocate ka ng nasa mali ka eh. So I think what's important here, that is where your passion and your commitment," he said.
"'Pag passionate ka, pagka committed ka, pagka well-educated ka sa isang bagay, doon mo nararamdaman na may idadagdag ka doon sa debate on that subject."
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).