Salud on Gilas line-up issues: ‘It’s a waste to point fingers’

MANILA, Philippines – PBA Chief Executive Officer and president Chito Salud says fans shouldn’t look for parties to blame over the current line-up of Gilas Pilipinas.

The former league commissioner spoke up about the perpetually hot topic over the last couple of months during the 2015 PBA Press Corps Awards on Wednesday night, September 16, saying it is unfair to players who willingly offered their services for the national team to wish other people take their spot. 

“I have nothing but gratitude to all those who have played, are playing or will play for Gilas in the future. I can understand the disappointment of some in not seeing the players they think should be in the team, but I simply refuse to indulge in it further than that,” he said during a speech at the Century Park Hotel in Manila. 

"It's a waste to point fingers. Further, I think it is a disservice to those who have volunteered to play to hear that there are more preferred players who should be in their place instead.”

The Philippine national team encountered a rocky start in its preparations for the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship happening this September 23 in Changsha, China. Key players pegged to be included in the line-up begged off due to injury, fatigue or personal reasons.

The biggest name among them is back-to-back PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo, who was included in the initial pool but backed out owing to a plantar fasciitis injury on both feet that’s been nagging him since the last PBA season. (READ: Gilas coach on Fajardo: ‘Can’t lose something you never had’

The 25-year old slotman was supposed to anchor the Gilas squad of head coach Tab Baldwin and would have immensely shored up the Philippines’ frontline. Taking up the cudgels now are veterans Asi Taulava, 42, and Sonny Thoss, 33. 

Guard LA Tenorio also withdrew himself from the team due to fatigue and family reasons, while there has been no clear and official reason why Paul Lee was not available. Sharp-shooter Marcio Lassiter similarly was unavailable as he reportedly tended to his sick mother in the US.

Many speculated that some PBA owners were to blame for not releasing players to the national team.The issue hit a fever pitch midway in August when Marc Pingris went back and forth on his decision to suit up. (READ: Pingris changes mind, says he’ll suit up for Gilas)

Star Hotshots team governor Rene Pardo cited Pingris as an example of players’ free will. "He (Pingris) will represent the country because he wants to. We have no control over our players’ decision when it comes to competing for the national team.

“Management will continue to encourage its pool of players to make themselves available, if they can, for national interest. We do not deny that we debate on the merits of them joining as a professional player. However, in the end representing your country is an incomparable honor. You can’t argue with that."

But less than a week away from the FIBA Asia wars, Salud wants to look ahead and see where this Gilas 3.0 batch can take Philippine basketball – possibly to Rio de Janeiro next year for the Summer Olympics should they win the FIBA Asia gold. 

"I want to focus on the silver linings – from giving our opponents the element of surprise to deepening our pool of talents for the future,” said Salud. 

He also touched on the idea of developing players for the national team. 

"I hope these events will serve as an impetus to revisit the very sound concept of building a cadet of players who would be developed as a team that will train and play together for a considerably longer period of time,” he explained as he reiterated the league’s support for Gilas. 

"With the Philippines back in the world stage of basketball, it is time. The PBA will continue to do its share in supporting Gilas as it has done in the past.” –