The Philippines is targeting no less than the gold medal in men’s basketball in the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea in September.
“The mandate is to win the gold and nothing else,” said Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Sonny Barrios.
The former PBA commissioner said the SBP, headed by the country’s No. 1 sports patron, Manny V. Pangilinan, is leaving no stone unturned to achieve the goal.
With the help of the PBA, Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes is eyeing the best team possible and the SBP will provide them the best training possible.
The Philippines used to dominate the best in the region, winning the Asian Games gold in 1951 in New Delhi, 1954 in Manila, 1958 in Tokyo and 1962 in Jakarta.
The last team to win the gold for the Philippines was led by Carlos Loyzaga. The team went undefeated in seven games and clinched the title with a 101-67 rout of Japan.
But that proved to be the last as the Philippines went downhill in the many years to come, and only returned to the finals in 1990, only to finish second behind China.
The Philippines also finished fourth in 1982 in New Delhi, 1994 in Hiroshima and in 2002 in Busan, South Korea.
Gilas, led by the finest players the PBA could offer, is on a roll, finishing second behind Iran in the FIBA Asia Championship last August in Manila.
The strong and historic finish earned the Philippines a slot to the 2014 World Championship in August in Spain. It’s the first time the country made it to the World Championship since 1978.
The Philippines also qualified for the 1986 World Championship but missed the opportunity to play because of the Edsa Revolution.
Barrios said Gilas can’t ask for a better way to prepare for the Asian Games than playing in the World Championship.
“Saan ka makakakita na ang practice mo para sa Asian Games is the World Championships? It’s like your on-the-job training,” he said.