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Basketball legend Fernandez puzzled by Gilas’ Asiad pullout

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Basketball legend Ramon Fernandez expressed bewilderment over the sudden withdrawal of Gilas Pilipinas from the Asian Games slated August 18-September 2 in Indonesia.

“If you read their statement, it’s hard to understand the reason. We can only speculate the real reason,” said a puzzled Fernandez in a telephone interview Friday.

Although a bit disappointed with the national team’s pullout, Fernandez, however, admitted he was also relieved as Gilas’ non-participation in the Asian Games would save the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) some money.

Fernandez, a member of the 1974 and 1990 Philippine basketball teams to the Asian Games, is currently a PSC commissioner and is involved in the country’s participation in the continental multi-sport event.

“Actually, I have two perspectives. In the part of the PSC, it’s a relief since there’s not much money for the Asian Games and we can actually save with this (withdrawal). Number 2, we have criteria to send only the medal contenders to the Asian Games, and Gilas would not have qualified because they only finished seventh in the last games,” Fernandez said.

The decision by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) to withdraw from the games came just hours after it announced that negotiations with the Cleveland Cavaliers are underway to allow Jordan Clarkson to play for the Philippines in the Asian Games.

Earlier on Thursday, SBP president Al Panlilio announced in a press conference in Manila that they are currently coordinating with the NBA team to have Clarkson see action in the Asiad.

Panlilio also announced during the same presscon that coach Yeng Guiao would be heading the Philippines to this year’s Games.

Hours later, in a surprising turn of events, the SBP issued a statement saying that Gilas Pilipinas would not be participating in the forthcoming quadrennial meet.

“To allow our National Team and organization to regroup, prepare for the process of appealing the FIBA Disciplinary Panel’s recent decision, and aim for sustainable success in future tournaments…..we have reached the conclusion, that with the forgoing considered and after consulting with the basketball community, the time and chance to participate in the 2018 Asian Games would not be optimal,” the SBP statement said.

“We apologize to the Asian Games organizers, to the fans of the Philippine team, and to the Asian basketball community for this withdrawal,” the SBP added. (MP/PNA)