SBP's Vargas thanks some PBA teams - and Pingris - for Gilas support

NO LOVE FOR THE OTHER SIDE. Ricky Vargas talks to Gilas in China. Screenshot from Chot Reyes' Instagram

NO LOVE FOR THE OTHER SIDE. Ricky Vargas talks to Gilas in China.

Screenshot from Chot Reyes' Instagram

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Gilas Pilipinas fought valiantly in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship, finishing in second place after falling to China in the gold medal match.

Gilas had just two months to prepare from the tournament, which was just one of the issues the team dealt with.

Another was that the national squad was unable to get some of the best talent available from the PBA, seeing as almost all guys playing for SMC teams bowed out of participating for a variety of reasons, including injury and fatigue.

However, there are whispers going around that the said players didn’t actually participate because they were asked by their team heads not to join.

There has been no formal confirmation of the matter, but it appears Gilas brass believes that to be the case.

On Saturday, October 3, SBP executive Ricky Vargas took turns thanking PBA franchises for their helping hand to the national team. 

He thanked GlobalPort obviously for Terrence Romeo. Alaska for Sonny Thoss, Calvin Abueva, and Alex Compton. Rain or Shine for Gabe Norwood. Meralco, NLEX, and Talk ’N Text (teams of Manny V. Pangilinan, the patron of Gilas) for the other guys. He also mentioned Barako Bull for JC Intal and Alaska for Dondon Hontiveros.

But rather than thanking Star - an SMC team - for Marc Pingris, Vargas showed gratitude directly to the player himself.

Now, this may be just incidental, but given the surrounding circumstances, it’s likely not. 

Mr. Ricky Vargas: "Thank you Alaska, Barako, Global Port, Meralco, NLEX, ROS, TNT & Marc Pingris" #LabanPilipinas A photo posted by @coachot on Oct 3, 2015 at 6:15pm PDT

There was some noise that Star actually didn’t want Pingris to contribute for national team duty, but he went ahead and volunteered anyway. Could he be traded because of that? Maybe, although Hotshots head coach Jason Webb did say recently to Philstar that the team will likely not make any more moves.

In an article on Interaksyon in August, Hotshots governor Rene Pardo stated that SMC has no control over the players who want to join Gilas.

“We have no control over our players’ decision when it comes to competing for the national team. We do not deny that we debate on the merits of them joining as a professional player,” Pardo said.

“However, in the end representing your country is an incomparable honor. You can’t argue with that.”

Pingris, who at first also backed out before eventually deciding to re-join Gilas, also said that all the decisions he made regarding the national team was his alone.

Ako naman talaga nag-decide dati na hindi maglaro kasi gusto kong magpahinga (I decided before not to play because I wanted to rest),” he told Rappler in a phone interview Wednesday, August 19.

Naririnig ko yang mga 'yan, 'sarap nga sumagot pero hindi ko pinapatulan. Wala naman silang (alam doon), decision ko naman yun (I heard it. I almost wanted to respond but I just didn't mind them. They don't know anything about it, it was my decision.).”

Pingris also said Star governor Rene Pardo encouraged him to offer his services for Gilas.

Nag-usap kami ng manager ko, sabi ko gusto ko talagang maglaro,” he explained.

Then tumawag sa akin si Sir Pardo, kasi nung nalaman nila na hindi na ako maglalaro, tumawag si Sir Pardo sa akin. Sabi niya: 'Sayang yung opportunity, maglaro ka na lang. Kasi hindi ka naman sayang yung opportunity baka last mo na maglaro nyan.’

(I spoke to my manager and said I really want to play. Then Sir Pardo called me when they heard I wouldn’t play: ‘It’s an opportunity, just play. You’re not getting any younger, so you might miss the opportunity to play one last time.’)

Whatever the case may be, it’s clear the SMC-MVP rivalry is just heating up. –