Mikee Romero says Gilas needs 5 naturalized players
MANILA, Philippines – Like former Gilas head coach Yeng Guiao, congressman and sports patron Mikee Romero believes that the Philippine men's basketball team is in need of more quality big men in order to be successful in the international stage.
The GlobalPort team owner said the Gilas program needs to step up in its recruitment of players that are eligible for naturalization, like Andray Blatche and Marcus Douthit in the past years.
"We need a versatile big man that we can count on in both offense and defense. We should recruit at least 5 of them then we just rotate," Romero said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association forum on Tuesday, September 24, at the Amelie Hotel.
Romero said that there is no limit in naturalizing eligible players as he also filed the bill seeking the naturalization of Justin Brownlee.
The 47-year-old sports patron hopes that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas will be able to develop a long-term basketball program that will link the juniors team to the senior elite team.
For Romero, Gilas Pilipinas is at a disadvantage with regards to its preparation for the international game as the team is often formed only weeks before the tournament.
"'Di na pwede ad hoc. Hindi na natin kaya. Dehado na tayo sa height, sa galing, sa bilis, tapos kung magbubuo kayo ng team one week before, we need a national program for basketball," Romero said.
"'Pag nakita mo 'yung program ng Ateneo, La Salle, San Beda, may coaches sila sa grade school, high school and college, so very clear ang succession."
(We cannot form a national team in an ad hoc manner. We're already disadvantaged in height, in skills, and in speed, then we still opt to form a team a week before the tournament. We need a national program for basketball. If you see the program of Ateneo, La Salle and San Beda, they have coaches in grade school, high school, and college, so the succession is very clear.)
Aside from being neck-deep into basketball, Romero has dipped his hands into shooting, volleyball, baseball, cycling, and now polo.
He expects the Philippines to win the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold in men's basketball.
"The gold in basketball is a must. At the level of our professional players, the Southeast Asian players are not at par. This is the gold that matters most to us," Romero said.
When the SEA Games is staged from November 30 to December 11, the owner of the GlobalPort team in the PBA will compete in polo.
He said of the two gold medals to be disputed by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia, the hosts will be happy to win one gold and one silver.
"Of course, the target is to sweep the golds. But the more realistic goal is a gold and a silver. It's more achievable," Romero said.
The Philippine polo team includes Gus Aguirre, Tommy Bitong, Jay de Jesus, Jam Eusebio, Anthony Filamor, Coco Garcia, Santi Juban, Ed Lopez, Marty Romualdez, Tonio Veloso and Noel Vecinal.
As a group, they will undergo intense training from October 27 to November 12 in Argentina, which Romero described as the "mecca of polo." – Rappler.com