Is it possible to finance a separate Philippine basketball team?

Is it possible to finance a separate Philippine team?
The current Gilas Pilipinas pool certainly has enough players for two, maybe even three, national teams but there is still a clear difference between Team A and Team B.

Chooks-to-Go is going all in on Gilas Pilipinas.

As the new FIBA schedule continues to clash with that of the PBA, the availability of the country's best professional players remain a problem not just now but for the foreseeable future.

With that in mind, Bounty Agro Ventures, Inc. (BAVI) is willing to finance a full-time Philippine national team that will compete in international competitions.

Yes, you read that right.

"The main objective really is for the country to play in the Olympics so ang Pilipinas, just like all other countries, challenge dun sa schedule ang mga professional ball club," BAVI President Ronald Mascariñas said on Wednesday during the official send-off of Gilas Pilipinas for the 2017 William Jones Cup in Taiwan.

"We're offering, making this offer, if we can work out with the SBP and the PBA, we're willing to finance -- full-time national team players," he added.

"As an incentive for them, we’re willing to give the maximum [PBA] salary to each national player. If that is at all possible."

With many of the region's best programs, particularly China, already forming at least two separate national teams, the Philippines might have to do the same in order to keep its status as one of Asia's elite.

The current Gilas Pilipinas pool certainly has enough players for two, maybe even three, national teams but there is still a clear difference between Team A and Team B.

For instance, we still refer to our younger players as "cadets."

"Gusto ko sana full-time na national team. Wherever, kung saan man tournaments yan, hindi papalit-palit," Mascariñas said.

"We may not have the tallest team, not have the most talented team, but kung ang team natin ay matagal na magkasama, in terms of teamwork, we might have that, that might be the asset of the Philippine team," he added.

If this grand plan of a separate national team seems like something out of the blue, don't worry because it is.

Mascariñas only made the pitch Wednesday after he made the internal plans beforehand.

"Kami pinag-usapan lang namin yun internally and this is really the first time, kasi andito si congressman [Robbie] Puno ng SBP," Mascariñas said.

"Tt was a good time to make that pitch. Actually yung statement ko kanina was really a pitch. If that is something that is interesting to the PBA and SBP then will take it from there," he added.

While everything remains internal, Mascariñas sure has a plan in place already especially since Bounty is committed to support the national team at least through Gilas Pilipinas' pursuit of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

"Before we committed sa Gilas, we signed a four-year agreement with SBP, pinag-aralan naman namin. We know what we’re going into," he said.

"We’re willing to start from scratch. Every year naman may papasok sa draft di ba? We’re willing to take the long road. It’s the pride of the company, of our brand that will be behind… yung Pilipinas, Gilas.. our brand will be behind [the national team] all the time," Mascariñas added.

In the meantime, the current version of Gilas Pilipinas is set to play in the Jones Cup in Taiwan on July 15-23. The Philippines will open its schedule against Canada on Saturday at 3:00 p.m.


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