Fair Play: Are 2 corporations fighting over Gilas?

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Aug. 17 edition)
MINUTES after our failed bid for the Fiba World Cup hosting, I heard Quinito Henson talking about how the target now is to aim for the title in the Fiba Asia men’s championships in China and that we should focus all our energies on that.

I was on my way out when I heard that and I couldn’t help but scoff. “Why talk about championship when we can’t even form a national team?”

That was the time when players on Tab Baldwin’s wish list were begging off for various reasons, citing injuries or the need to rest.

Yes, forming a national basketball team these days is as problematic as deciding whether Comelec should use Smartmatic’s PCOS machine, in every side or decision, there are conspiracy theorists abound, ready to pounce in.

I’m sure you’ve had your experience in forming a team for your barangay tournament and there will always be that accusation that someone got in because of favoritism or someone is out because the ex of his mama’s classmate’s cousin twice removed is handling the team and doesn’t want the kid to join the team.

Multiply that by a gazillion times and you’d have an idea at the politics in the national team.

In 2013, when we hosted the Fiba Asia men’s championships, there were already a lot of stories circulating how most of the Gilas Pilipinas member then had played non-stop elite basketball for three years straight due to their duties with the national team and their stints in the PBA. Everyone was all praises for our sturdy men in the national team who forego personal welfare over national welfare.

Now, injuries and the need to rest are being used as the reason for opting out. And this would have been very understandable for loyal fans except for that tiny bit of coincidence--the players begging out belong to one conglomerate, the players sticking it belong to another.

And that what’s fueling the conspiracy theory that San Miguel--the walang iwanan company--is leaving Gilas Pilipinas high and dry.

Of course, the level-headed guys would say, what would San Miguel gain from ordering its players not to suit up for Gilas? Nothing, right?

And it’s going to be the No. 1 target of hatred should Gilas falter because of the lack of personnel in their campaign in Asia.

Basketball being the No. 1 sport in the country, it’s weird why one of the country’s most recognized company is being pictured out as unsupportive.

Is it a battle of business interests? We all know how the country’s most loved team is used in all promotions and ads of MVP’s company, and is that what San Miguel wants? To be able to dictate that commerical and marketing uses of Gilas Pilipinas?

To have Andray Blatche say in halting Tagalog to June Mar Fajardo, “Walang iwanan?”

If that’s their ultimate target, it’s curious how they are going about achieving that.

And you know how the minds of the Filipino sports fans operate when they break down matches over, yes, dozens of San Mig Lights; they’d say if only the SMC players were there we could have done better.

Will the lot be throwing their San Miguel bottles away in frustration after the Fiba Asia men’s tournament? That remains to be seen.


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