National men’s basketball team Gilas Pilipinas point guard Jimmy Alapag has no issues over news that Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president and businessman Manny Pangilinan is interested in buying a stake in the Los Angeles Clippers after the team's owner, Donald Sterling, got a lifetime ban from the NBA for his racist comments.
SBP, the organization formed by the merging of formerly warring groups Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) and Pilipinas Basketball (PB), paved the way for Gilas Pilipinas to finally be able to participate in the FIBA Basketball World Cup after years of being suspended.
The businessman revealed his plan to invest in the LA Clipper in an interview with ANC early this month. However the chairman of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and owner of PBA team Talk ‘N Text clarified that none of his companies will participate in the bid, citing that he intends to make the potential investment “personal.”
With MVP’s desire to co-own the NBA team, presumptions that he might withdraw his support for the Gilas Pilipinas surfaced.
But Alapag is certain that Pangilinan won’t withdraw his support from them even claiming that his plan could actually be beneficial for the entire basketball community.
“I think it would be great to see a Filipino owning or having part ownership of an NBA team. I think it could really help pave the way for hopefully in the future having a Filipino player in NBA. I think it’s just a matter of time. If there’s anybody who I think is ready and is a great person to be part of NBA, it’s Boss MVP,” he explained in an exclusive interview with Push.com.ph at the #PusototheMax event held in Meralco Gym recently adding that, “We’re hoping it all works out, but for now we’ll just wait and see.”
He even underscored that the business giant is not the type to be “distracted” from his prior commitments and goals.
“I think for Boss MVP he’s always looking to continue progressing with our country, in sports, especially in basketball, and you know whatever the opportunity presented itself to be an NBA owner, I think it would be great and I think it would create more opportunities for Filipinos to get their foot in the NBA,” Alapag highlighted.
With the FIBA competition still a few months away, Alapag admitted that they have yet to feel the pressure involved in ensuring the country prove itself in the tilt. “Right now it’s still the start of our preparation for Spain pero lahat kami we’ve been together for a while now so I think ‘yung transition will be much cooler this time as opposed to last year getting ready for FIBA Asia,” shared the husband of actress LJ Moreno.
Alapag was pertaining to the Gilas Pilipinas’s win against South Korea in the 27th FIBA Asia Championship last year, which paved the way for them to qualify—for the first time in 35 years—in the FIBA World Cup.
“‘Pagkatapos nung [PBA] Governor’s Cup I think first week of July then we’ll be the start of the full preparation for ‘yung first game namin. So we’ll have two months,” he further shared.
Does he see which teams in Group B would pose as their biggest opponent? “Honestly lahat sila kasi for our group top to bottom it’s probably the strongest teams. Kasi I think of the six teams in our group, four of them are in the Top 15 in the world… So medyo malakas ‘yung kalaban namin,” said the Gilas Pilipinas star player.
He continued, “But again you know it’s exciting and we’re going to do our best to make our country and lahat ng kababayan proud of our national team.”
The teams competing in the 17th FIBA Basketball World Cup are divided into four groups depending on the host city where they are set to play. The Philippines is under Group B which will compete in Sevilla, Spain.
Among their contenders under Group B are Argentina (FIBA Ranking Men: No. 3), Greece (FIBA Ranking: No. 5), Croatia (FIBA Ranking: No. 16), Puerto Rico (FIBA Ranking: No. 17) and Senegal (FIBA Ranking: No. 41).