SBP on Gilas suspensions meted by FIBA: “It could have been much worse”

SBP president Al Panlilio, center, is flanked by executive director Sonny Barrios, left, and team manager Butch Antonio, right during the presser following FIBA’s verdict on the Gilas Pilipinas-Australian Boomers in-game fight last July 2. (Philippine Star)

“SBP accepts the disciplinary panel’s decision.”

This was stressed by Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio in a press conference held Thursday afternoon moments after learning of FIBA’s verdict on the ugly fight that tainted the Philippines-Australia game to close out the first round of the World Cup qualifiers last July 2.

“It’s very clear that the focus of the sanctions is on FIBA World Cup qualifier games. Again, the incident was a disappointment. FIBA has been quite fair in the process. It could have been worse,” Panlilio said before journalists who gathered at PLDT’s main office in Makati City.

Also present during the presser were SBP executive director Sonny Barrios, lawyer Aga Francisco, and team manager and deputy executive director Butch Antonio.

The sport’s world governing body has slapped suspensions against 10 Gilas players and 2 coaches. According to the SBP, this will only cover the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers. This means that Calvin Abueva, who will sit out six games, will miss the entirety of the second window set to begin in September.

“No one wants to be suspended. But it’s a learning for all of us,” said the SBP executive.

Panlilio also made it clear that the punishment only applies to international play and the careers of players involved in the fracas are not directly affected, as well the coming participation of the Philippines in the coming Asian Games in Indonesia this August.

However, more crippling than having to go back to battle sans its mainstays and coaches is the fact that Gilas will be forced to play their home game against Iran on September 17 behind closed doors. This means, no chants of “Puso!” will be heard from Team Philippines’ throngs of supporters.

Panlilio says this is one of the matters the SBP will seek clarification on, for FIBA to shed light on the three-year probationary period it has imposed on the men’s national team.

“There are certain facts that we want to clarify further, make sure that we are in the same page as FIBA. We did have our position paper submitted to them last July 13, we just want to make sure they considered those points and we’re on the same page. From there, we’ll assess whether we’ll proceed on the formal appeal,” Panlilio shared.

“It is painful to have a closed door [game]. It’s driving a lesson that we could have done it the better way.”

Despite many odds stacked against Gilas Pilipinas moving forward, Panlilio wants to remain positive on the country’s chances of going farther in the tournament.

“We just have to continue to fight and play. We can’t give up.”


About Kristina Maralit 124 Articles
Thomasian / Kicks like a girl -- former UAAP and national inter-school TaeKwonDo champion / Beating deadlines since 1999 / Director, National Press Club of the Philippines.

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