The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) welcomed the initiative of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) to hold its first-ever international basketball competition amidst the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
SBP president Alfredo Panlilio praised FIBA for organizing the 2020 FIBA Esports Open, and described the event as ‘very timely’.
“People are looking for events, people are looking for competition. This is something, using technology, as a way to bring competition back into the main stream. Very excited to actually watch the games,” Panlilio said during a virtual press conference.
SBP executive director Sonny Barrios also said that he never imagined that basketball games can be played ‘where height is not might’ and without fears of any injury.
“It is a very welcome development. You don’t need brawn or height. You only need to play smart,” Barrios stressed.
Barrios added that Philippines might have a chance of winning its first gold medal in the Olympics if the the organizers of the Games will include online basketball competitions in the upcoming years.
SBP Director for Operations Butch Antonio, meanwhile, expects that the 2020 FIBA Esports Open will provide hope and inspiration to Filipinos during the ongoing health crisis caused by COVID-19.
“Basketball is very much a part of the Filipino culture. It is already entrenched in our lives,” Antonio said.
“We are hoping that through the sport, the SBP, and with the help of everybody around us, we would be able to use basketball as a medium to at least give inspiration, and hope. Para mabigyan ng pag-asa ang ating mga kababayan to get through this pandemic,” the SBP executive added.
17 national teams, including the Philippine squad, will participate in the 2020 FIBA Esports Open.
During the three-day long virtual tournament starting Friday, June 19, and ends on Sunday, June 21, the Philippine team will play in a total of five games, all against the representatives of Indonesia.
The Philippine team compose of eight time NBA 2k Pro-Am Champion Aljon Cruzin, two-time NBA 2K Asia Champion Rial Polog Jr., NBA 2K17 Asia champion Custer Galas, NBA 2K18 Asia Champion Philippe Alcaraz Herrero IV, Clark Banzon, Pro-AM 2K Veterans League Champion David John Timajo, and Rocky Braña.
NBA 2K19 Pro-Am Invitational Champion and the NBA 2K19 ESGS Invitational Champion Nite Alparas, the coach of the national team, considers the squad as the ‘dream team’ due to the achievements of its members.
“Sila yung mga top sa NBA 2k community dito sa Pilipinas and then dami nila achievements,” Alparas explained.