By Waylon Galvez
With the success of basketball in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio said his hope is for the national teams to continue their improvement and growth not just in the region but in Asia.
Basketball accounted for four gold medals in the biennial meet, two in the 3×3 event – a first in the SEA Games – and two more in the 5-on-5 event after the men and women’s teams downed their respective Thailand opponents Sunday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Tim Cone-mentored Gilas squad claimed for the country its 18th overall gold medal in 20 SEAG editions, while the women’s squad of coach Pat Aquino made history as it clinched its first-ever gold medal.
“Mission accomplished,” said Panlilio. “Four gold medals for the Philippines in basketball capped by another dominant run by our Gilas Pilipinas men’s team.”
“With the country hosting the SEA Games, it gave us an unique opportunity to be able to showcase the best team we could form.”
Panlilio said the SBP could not have done forming the best team without the support of the PBA, headed by Commissioner Willie Marcial and the PBA Board of Governors chaired by Ricky Vargas. He likewise credited the all out support of Smart, as well as San Miguel Corporation that “collaborated seamlessly to build this team.”
Plans for the formation of Gilas teams for the 2021 SEA Games in Vietnam, 2022 Asian Games in China and 2023 FIBA World Cup here, along with qualifying tournaments, have been calendared.
As for the women’s national team, Panlilio said all the hard work and sacrifice of the players and coaches have been rewarded.
“History has been made. For the first time in history, our Filipina basketball players are queens of the Southeast Asian Games,” said Panlilio.
“The SBP congratulates coach Patrick Aquino and all the members of the team as this is surely the fitting reward to the hard work that they have put in throughout the years. We also thank the countless individuals who have invested in Philippine women’s basketball from the beginning as this success is also built from their sacrifices.”
“The SBP strongly believes that this is just the beginning as there’s a brighter future ahead for our Gilas Pilipinas Women.”