Fernandez lauds SBPâs long-term program
Ramon Fernandez

Fernandez lauds SBP’s long-term program

Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - June 23, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — For basketball legend and Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) board member Ramon Fernandez, Gilas Pilipinas’ youth-oriented program is a step in the right direction.

Fernandez, one of the greatest Filipino cagers of all time who won a gold in the Asian Basketball Championship in 1973 in Manila, said he’d like to see the Gilas young guns stay together long, play at the big stage more often, and get the payoff in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

“I’m glad these young boys are given the chance to represent the country. It’s good for their future and their careers,” said “El Presidente” during yesterday’s online PSA Forum.

Fernandez said tapping the Gilas youngsters in major meets like the recent FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in Clark and the upcoming Olympic Qualification Tournament in Serbia should serve them well long-term.

“This is a better tact na ginawa ng SBP (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas) na yung kabataan natin, future basketball players, mag-improve,” said the hoops icon, who also won gold in the 1972 ABC U-18 Championship and silver in the 1990 Asian Games.

The four-time PBA MVP noted the difficulty of tapping the more seasoned pros for Gilas duties because they are tied up with their mother league.

“Not for anything else but this is thinking long term. If we expose these boys to high level competitions, they will improve for sure, perhaps even more than the PBA players would have,” said Fernandez.

Gilas passed its test in the ACQ in Clark, where it beat nemesis South Korea twice en route to a six-game sweep of Group A.

The pool, which is now down to 13 after Javi Gomez de Liaño and Jaydee Tungcab were cut, is preparing for the OQT matchup with World No. 5 Serbia on June 30 and 19th-ranked the Dominican Republic the next day.

Fernandez also told the weekly forum the Philippines has a strong chance of winning not just one or two medals but more in next month’s Tokyo Olympics.

“We’re really hoping for a multiple-medal performance by our athletes in the Olympics,” he said.

The basketball legend’s optimism came from the fact that the Philippines is on its way to meeting its target to qualify at least 19 athletes to the quadrennial event the most by the country in recent memory.

Currently, 13 Filipino athletes have made the cut including golfer Juvic Pagunsan, who officially qualified yesterday.

“We count about maybe 19 already and we’re hoping we can send a lot of athletes. We’re going to break some records as far as the number of delegation members is concerned,” said Fernandez.

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