Q and A: Salud believes shooting is the future of Gilas – Part 2
Part 2 of 2
MANILA, Philippines – In December 2014, PBA Commissioner Angelico “Chito” Salud sat with a small group of sportswriters to share and discuss his thoughts about the league’s partnership with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), the country’s basketball federation.
Salud, who is set to step down as Commissioner by the end of the season and take on a new role as PBA President and CEO, touched on topics invovling the Gilas coaching job. He also shared the league owners’ reaction toward lending their players to the national team.
Below is part 2 of the hour-long interview, with minor edits for clarity.
The biggest problem of the PBA is schedule. Last year it was compressed. Are there moves or plans to permanently change the schedule to accommodate international tournaments?
As I said, whatever sacrifice the PBA has offered in the past, it’s very small. It’s a very small sacrifice compared to the pride and joy that we bring to the country.
That’s why the long-term plan is important. Because the PBA is a going concern. You have to understand that the member teams there joined for a purpose. They joined knowing that the league will have a uniform schedule. They joined to expose their products and services. Now, if you remember, that was the main problem when the PBA was born. The Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) kept on extracting the players at any time to the detriment not just of the league – of the Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA) – but also of the commercial value and brand equity of the teams that were members of MICAA. We don’t want to go back there.
But at the same time, what I’m saying is, this [using pro players] is really a stop-gap measure in the absence of a long-term plan. And that’s what we intend to do with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP). Let’s identify with the grassroots program that you have, who are potential national players? Nurture them. Take care of them. We will just have to wait. We will just have to see it pan out and not be in a hurry. But it will happen, kasi magagaling naman ang mga players natin e. Aalagaan mo lang naman yan (because our payers are good. You just have to take care of them).
And the PBA is willing to cooperate. In what way?
For example, I am really suggesting – strongly suggesting – that if there is a player that the SBP thinks would be a good national player, even if he joins the draft and he gets hired by a member team, he can be pulled out at any time without restrictions. And that can start even during his college career. Because even the NCAA and UAAP have rules on the pulling out of players for the national team.
But that has to start somewhere – grassroots.
How is it that private scouts can beat the SBP to a player who has the potential? Cannot be. We have the best regional directors in the SBP. No way that they can beat us. Once we identify those players, they belong to the cadet pool with an understanding that any school, or any commercial team including the PBA, who gets him, gets him under the condition that he can be pulled out of the team at any time – until the SBP finally releases the player from the pool. It gets replenished so in the long term we always have a pool. No more need for rescheduling of the season because the team in the PBA knows there is a caveat already. When I get that player, he can be pulled out at any time.
So the calendar of the PBA becomes more stable. It’s just up to the team whether he’ll get that player who can be pulled out at any time or not.
Does that mean the PBA is open to lowering the age limit?
We’re at 21 now. For men’s national team that might be too young, 21, especially for us Filipinos. I think we mature a lot later than our counterparts (in Asia). Maybe 25 or 26 years old.
The present rule is you have to be 21 to be able to join the draft. There’s no move to change that. So if you’re 21, there’s no problem. What I’m saying is, if you’re less than 21, kailangan yung SBP hawak na natin yung player na yun. Para kahit kunin ni UST yan or ni Ateneo, pwede siya i-pull out any time we need him for a tournament abroad (the SBP needs to get that player already. So even if UST or Ateneo or any school gets the player, he can still be pulled out any time we need him for a tournament abroad).
Is the committee aware of that?
Yes they are aware. I pointed that out. Paano tayo matatalo ng scouts? Dapat atin yan, meaning SBP (How can the scouts beat us? They should be ours, ours meaning SBP). Atin yan (They are ours) and then when he joins a school, the school knows and the league knows that he can be used by the national team at any time. I think that will make the league concerned more stable kasi hindi na niya kailangan mag-adjust (because you don’t have to adjust anymore), whether you’re UAAP, NCAA or PBA.
Obviously, using pro players is a stop-gap measure. What’s the long-term plan? Hihiram na lang ba tayo ng hihiram (Are we just going to keep on borrowing)? The main concern here is balancing the national interest against the interest of the member teams also. Obviously it’s a business proposition also for them. We can’t be “destablizing” the league for an indefinite period because that’s what happened during the MICAA days, during the BAP days, and we want to avoid that. We happen to have a good group who’s running the national team and they realize that they should have a long-term plan, aside from just using professional players. I’m not saying they can’t use professional players but in the long term, give us plans.
What are your thoughts on the next Gilas Pilipinas squad going young?
I’m all for it. Especially if we still don’t have a long-term plan in place, let’s go young. If it’s decided that they’ll use pro players for the next 2, 3, 4 years, let’s go young now. But if they have a long-term plan, then we can adjust.
We becamse successful in the FIBA World Cup because of the small ball system and the dribble drive. Does that mean the SBP will urge the coach to continue doing that?
It depends on his style. But one thing is for sure, we need outside shooting. Whether dribble-drive or post-play or whatever, we need to improve our shooting, perimeter, three-point shots, and foul shots. I think if we improve on those areas, whatever style we use, will work. That has to start not in the PBA, it has to start when they’re young. The young basketball players have to have the mentality that I can shoot this from the three-point area, I can shoot this in the perimeter. And when I go to the foul line, it’s automatic.
(READ: Tab Baldwin is new Gilas coach)
When it comes to improving on shooting, would you say the Koreans are the standard we should aim for?
Our peg is the World. You take a look at the European countries, once they’re free, they take it. Watch our players, when they’re free, they dribble and go inside. That’s a mentality. Why? When you’re young, the coach will say take a drive because that’s a higher percentage (attempt). But the reverse of that is how do you improve your shooting if you keep on driving? Second point, we have so many basketball courts in every corner of the barangay (village). That proves we really like basketball. But those are not regulation courts. So what happens? They drive, lay-up, showtime. No shooting because it’s not a regulation court. So in one way, it also hurts our shooting skills.
The key there is, one, there ought to be a shooting program for the SBP. Improve our shooting program at the grade school level and emphasize that it’s not just driving [to the hoop]. It’s so hard to get a foul in the Worlds, even in FIBA Asia. I cannot overemphasize that. We need to shoot that ball to score. Period.