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Ramon Fernandez wants only Philippines' finest cagers in international tourneys

Joey Villar - Philstar.com
Ramon Fernandez wants only Philippines' finest cagers in international tourneys
File photo of an iteration of the Philippine men's national basketball team pool in huddle during practice.

MANILA, Philippines – Send the best of the best.

This was the advice given by basketball legend Ramon Fernandez following the country’s catastrophic silver medal finish in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam in the sport that matters most for Filipinos — men’s basketball.

“We have to choose the best possible players. We cannot belittle them (opponents) anymore just like the old days when we can send our college players and still beat them,” said Fernandez, a commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission and the country’s chef-de-mission in Hanoi during Thursday’s weekly PSC Hour.

“We can’t do it now because our neighbors have tremendously improved,” he added.

The 19-time PBA champion and four-time pro MVP’s statement came a week after the Chot Reyes-mentored Gilas team fell to a Rajko Toroman-coached Indonesian that ended a 33-year SEA Games dominance.

While the country fielded in an all-pro squad headed by Junemar Fajardo, Fernandez thinks they could have tinkered with the roster more.

“I was saddened because I was expecting a win. But I have to give it to our opponents, they scouted us well and they came in really prepared,” he said.

Fernandez is someone whose advice must be heeded being an icon in the sport and a veteran internationalist.

He was a member of the national team that won the gold in the 1972 FIBA Asia Under-18 Championship and 1973 FIBA Asia Championship both in Manila and the silver in the 1990 Beijing Asiad.

The man’s words are Gospel truth.

GILAS

RAMON FERNANDEZ

SEA GAMES

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