PBA to render Smart Gilas games as non-bearing?
by rick olivares
The hammer has been dropped on the turbulent stint of the Smart Gilas Pilipinas National Team in the current Philippine Cup Conference in the Philippine Basketball Association. In a letter sent today to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas Executive Director Emmanuel “Noli” Eala, league Commissioner Renauld “Sonny” Barrios gave his predecessor two choices: 1) for Smart Gilas games to have no bearing on PBA teams, and 2) for Smart Gilas not to field CJ Giles in any of its remaining games that will have a bearing on the PBA teams.
The first choice nullifies the wins of Burger King, Talk N’ Text and Barangay Ginebra against Smart Gilas earlier in the tournament. Smart Gilas is slated to play Coca Cola in the first week of November.
The decision by the PBA was arrived at following a meeting with the Board of Directors in the wake of a congressional hearing regarding the incident where Burger King guard Wynne Arboleda attacked Alain Katigbac, a fan who was seated courtside and who was alleged to hurl insults at the pro basketball player that led to the mauling.
“We recognize that CJ Giles is a very vital part of the national team, the reason why he is considered as a candidate for naturalization for Filipino citizen. He is seen as the “good big man” the country sorely lacks to be able to compete with the powerhouse teams in Asia today. It will not help the team’s cause any if Giles is not allowed to play with the team,” the PBA Commissioner explained.
“We are convinced that it is in everyone’s best interest if both teams go into the game with the same mindset that the game has no bearing. Both Smart Gilas and the PBA opposing team, and their players, will thus be on equal footing as far as their outlook and approach of the game are concerned.
Some teams complained about the game between Smart Gilas and Talk ‘N Text where CJ Giles, Rabeh Al-Hussaini, and Chris Tiu did not suit up. Giles played for five minutes because the National Team Coach Rajko Toroman benched him for his lackluster play owing to the illness of his son Jayden who was rushed to a hospital in the United States. Al-Hussaini did not suit up because he had been down with a fever for three days while Tiu was nursing a thigh bruise that also saw him sit out the game versus Ginebra.
Yet in spite of the explanations for the missing national players, many feel that the remaining teams would be at a disadvantage when all three are back in harness.
“Some players have pointed out that the different treatment almost always means a difference in the level of intensity that may give rise to physical play and unwanted incidents,” Barrios said who concurred with Ginebra mentor Jong Uichico who noted that teams seem to get up more for the games against the national team.
But should the games of Gilas be rendered as non-bearing, Barrios believes that it will not reflect on the way other teams play them.