The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) finally broke its silence over the withdrawal of the men’s basketball team from the 18th Asian Games.
PSC chairman William “Butch” Ramirez said the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) didn’t reach out for consultation before making the “unpopular” decision of pulling out Gilas Pilipinas.
His position is similar to that of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) executive council and the chief of mission Richard Gomez.
Members of the PBA board of governors claimed that they were shocked with the sudden turn of events while four members of the POC executive committee said their president Ricky Vargas made a “unilateral decision” of supporting the withdrawal, which merits sanctions from the Olympic Council of Asia.
Gomez, for his part, was also crushed by the pullout and even made a last-minute attempt to block it, saying that it has to pass through him first before it could be made formal.
But ranking SBP officials, with the backing of Vargas and POC secretary general Patrick Gregorio, were quick to pull the trigger and submit the withdrawal before the Indonesian Asian Games Organizing Committee.
With this shocking turn of events, we couldn’t help but wonder: Who’s pulling the strings from behind the scene?
Definitely, it’s not Gomez who was left holding an empty bag after the delegation’s celebrated, most popular squad walked away from the competition as if the Asian Games is just an inter-color basketball tournament.
It’s also not the PBA nor the POC executive board, which claimed to have been kept out of the loop when crucial decisions were made.
Of course, it’s also not the PSC, the government’s funding arm for sports, that made it very clear that it is ready to bankroll the participation of Gilas Pilipinas in the prestigious quadrennial meet.
So who’s the boss?
Well, it could be Vargas.
Or SBP chairman emeritus Manny Pangilinan.
Or SBP president Al Panlilio.
Whoever it is, only one thing is clear: That person is so powerful to make the POC, the PSC, the PBA and the chief of mission go down on their knees and beg to put the celebrated, most popular squad back in the Asian games roster.