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By Ronnie Nathanielsz

Sun, 09 Jun 2013

Everything has gone well so far, as the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas

prepares to host the FIBA Asia Championships at the spanking Mall of Asia Arena which is in itself a glowing testament to the Filipinos love of sports and entertainment and the response of big business to the need for a world class facility.

In terms of the draw, the general feeling is that it?s the best we could have got. Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes and two of his key assistants Jong Uichico and Norman Black both told us, it was a good draw for the Philippines.

Reyes explained they chose Group A ?because we felt it gave us the best chance of finishing first or second after the second round thereby avoiding China and Iran.? Should the Philippines finish first in our bracket it will possibly send us up against Kazakhstan in the quarter finals which could be troublesome but certainly isn?t the worst scenario.

Uichico who mentored the nationals who lost a certified heartbreaker in the 2002 Asian Games in Pusan pointed out that the coaching staff which certainly does its homework in a very organized and rational fashion had ?a target, and if we can get one of the top two spots we will avoid China and Iran. We did the best we can.? Of this there is no doubt. He also told us that the morale of the team is very high which is another good sign. Their two wins so far in Lithuania bodes well for our FIBA quest although we need to g a long way in an unfortunately short time.

We spoke to multi-titled coach Norman Black, another member of the coaching staff who looked at our initial assignments and reminded us all that ?we cannot take Taiwan lightly. Bottom line is we need to win our games. No question about that..

We bring up the Taiwan case because there have been a few disturbing tweets suggesting our fans should boo the Taiwanese all game long because of the current dispute over the killing of a Taiwanese fishermen by the coastguard personnel who, on the surface, went to unfortunate extremes by riddling the Taiwanese boat with scores of bullets in the process killing a fisherman.

There is no need to exacerbate the situation with any acts that will damage our nation?s image as a people who love basketball with a passion and live by the values and virtues of being good sportsmen.

Manny Pangilinan must have spent a small fortune in ensuring that the FIBA Championships are held here and providing us with a real chance of earning a place in the World Cup next year. To resort to anything foolish and not in keeping with the Filipinos gracious nature would be a crime, no matter how you look at it.

PBA Commissioner Chito Salud who has done all he could ? and more ? to ensure the support of the PBA teams for Gilas Pilipinas alongside likeable chairman Robert Non, has correctly pointed out that ?our fate remains in our hands.?

And so does the good image of our people no matter what some imbeciles may think or say. Let?s show the world that this isn?t the "gates of hell" but an avenue to a heavenly sojourn of some two weeks with the national love for basketball overriding all else and making our visitors feel that the Philippines is indeed a home away from home.

As Commissioner Salud said, ?Let?s go Gilas Pilipinas. Our country?s hopes and prayers are with you.? Our team will surely do their best but even more importantly our fans must not let us down.

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