Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio said his group is willing to sit down with the management of Chooks-to-Go, headed by Bounty Agro Ventures president Ronald Mascariñas, about the possibility of the company financing a full-time national team.
Mascariñas broached the idea during a press conference on Wednesday, saying that he’s willing to offer “maximum salary allowed in the PBA” to players who will don the Gilas Pilipinas jersey on a full-time basis.
Chooks-to-Go is one of the major sponsors of Gilas Pilipinas.
“The idea was brought up in the press conference (Wednesday). SBP is willing to sit down with Mr. Mascariñas and discuss his idea. No discussions have been made yet with the SBP,” Panlilio told InterAksyon.
Currently, members of the Gilas Pilipinas pool are tied with their respective PBA clubs except for Christian Standhardinger, Kiefer Ravena, Ray Parks, Kobe Paras, Raymar Jose and Almond Vosotros.
“Well, all Gilas players have contracts today with the PBA except for the guys who haven’t been drafted,” added Panlilio. “But I’m aware of the plans of Mr. Mascariñas.”
Having a full-time national basketball team with players who can be called up anytime isn’t new to the Philippines.
It was first done in the 1980s when businessman Danding Cojuangco backed the Northern Cement squad, bolstered by the country’s top amateurs and a couple of naturalized players, that won the 1985 Asian Championships–the last time the Philippines hoisted the continent’s basketball crown.
The same model was applied in 2010 when business tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan bankrolled the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas, the first incarnation of this era’s national team. The squad fell short of its goal of qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics after finishing fourth in the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship.