Ranidel de Ocampo and China’s Yi Jianlian vie for the ball in the final of the FIBA Asia Championship in Changsha in south China’s Hunan province. China won 78-67.  AP file photo

Stakeholders have say on Rio qualifier

MANILA, Philippines - The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is hoping its "basketball community" and stakeholders will help in the cage body's stand to compete or skip the Olympic world qualifier in July next year.

The decision will have to be made before Oct. 18.

"We have so little time. We'll rely on words that we'll hear. If it's solid, then we're willing to do this for the country," said SBP vice chairman Ricky Vargas.

"The basketball community knows what the team needs. If the basketball community gives us the players that will make us competitive and gives us time to practice, then we'll go and compete," Vargas also said.

The crucial answer definitely will be the one from the PBA, the league board and the PBA team owners.

The SBP leaders said it would need all the help that they can get to form a team that can play competitively in the Olympic world qualifier.

France, Serbia, Greece, Italy, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Angola, Tunisia, Senegal, Iran and Japan are the other teams that have booked tickets to the Olympic wild card plays.

"It requires a whole community of people to create an Olympic qualifier. The SBP knows this. In fact, if there will be teams, corporations, sponsors who like to co-sponsor the national team, we're willing to cooperate," said Vargas.

"Whatever company this is. The ball is not in our hands, not in one person's hands. The SBP is asking the community to come in," he added.

If the commitment is there, Vargas said the SBP is even willing to host one of the three world qualifying events. Hosting fee is Euro$2 million (P120 million).

SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan's concern is raising false hopes.

"We have to understand that strong basketball nations are the ones we're playing in the Olympic world qualifier. If we're to send the same team (that played in Changsha), we know in reality that our chances getting in is rather slim," said Pangilinan.

"I'm not saying no, but let's be realistic," he added. "If we have a chance, I will support that. SBP should support that."

"We're not taking away the achievement of Gilas 3. They're a great bunch. They overachieved. But we're going in a tougher competition now. We should work together to put the best team we could have, and have the time to practice," said Vargas.

Vargas has pointed to Junmar Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter and Paul Lee who could make Gilas a better team.

SBP officials have earlier said they can't rely just on the commitment of the PBA board. They want commitment from the PBA team owners.

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