Monday, February 4, 2013

FIBA-Asia men’s championship

Believing in the popular consensus that the coming FIBA-Asia men's championship is not an ordinary event for the basketball-crazy Filipinos, Samahang Basketbol Ng Pilipinas (SBP) executive director Sonny Barrios called for the formation of the strongest possible team when the country hosts the world championship qualifying tournament on August 1-11.

"Based on my conversation with many of our friends in the private and government sectors, business and sports and even men and women in the streets, the coming FIBA-Asia championship is one fair opportunity for us to take advantage of to regain our lofty standing as the basketball capital in this part of the world," Barrios declared during Friday's SCOOP Sa Kamayan session at the Kamayan Restaurant-Padre Faura.

"I agree with those people, particularly with Sonny (Robert Jaworski) and Bogs (William Adornado), that, indeed, we have to form a team similar to that 1973 champion and aim not only a top three finish merely to qualify to the world championship, but, to win the title," Barrios stressed.

"Because we are hosting the event for the first time in 40 years, gusto ng ating mga kababayan that we form a team made up of the best of the best and prepare the best way possible," he said.

Jaworski, "Jawo," or "Big-J," to the local basketball circle, and Adornado, both members of the triumphant 1973 squad, have earlier welcomed FIBA-Asia's granting the right for the country to host the tournament's 27th edition as well as the formation of the strongest team capable of winning back the crown the Filipinos last won in 1985.

That, according to the SBP honcho, is apart from a chance for us to highlight anew the famous organizational skills and renowned hospitality of Filipinos.

"And as our president, Mr. MVP (Manny V. Pangilinan) had already proclaimed we, in the SBP, will be leaving no stone unturned in achieving our goals," he vowed during the public service forum, sponsored by Powerade, AKTV and FILA.

Barrios also agreed with Jaworski, local basketball's living legend, and Adornado, MVP of the 1973 FIBA-Asia championship, that achieving the targets will require supreme sacrifice among those who will be involved in the preparations and actual staging of the biennial tournament, which since its birth in 1960, has served as the qualifying phase of the Olympic games and world championship.

"Well, of course, I don't want to pre-empt the PBA, which has been tasked the job of forming the national team, but as far as organization is concerned, the ball, so to speak, has already started going by establishing key groups for the purpose," said the former PBA commissioner who came to the SCOOP session with his deputy, Bernie Atienza.

Quietly and without fanfare, the SBP had already come up with the organizational structure that will oversee preparations and the running of the project with the naming of Pangilinan himself as the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) chair as mandated by the regional FIBA-Asia charter.

Barrios is chief executive officer of the local organizing committee with Moying Martelino, former secretary general of the Asian Basketball Confederation, the precursor of FIBA-Asia, as deputy and senior sports director.

Ricky Vargas, one of MVP's closes allies and president and CEO of water firm Maynilad, heads the LOC advisory group, which will include MVP Sports Foundation president Al Panlilio, North Luzon Expressway president Ramon Fernandez, PBA chair and San Miguel Corp. basketball head Robert Non, Meralco vice president and PBA vice chair Ramon Segismundo, PBA commissioner Chito Salud and Pasig Rep. Ronnie Puno.

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