November 23, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Chooks To Go wants to follow blue print of NCC for national team program

CAN Chooks To Go follow the blue print of Northern Consolidated Cement (NCC) in building a successful national team program?

Ronald Mascariñas, chief backer of the sponsoring Chooks To Go, wants to take the same path underwent by Danding Cojuangco, who bankrolled the Northern Consolidated team that stayed on together for years and represented the country in major international tournaments.

That team was the last squad to win the FIBA Asia Cup when the Ron Jacobs-mentored quintet bannered by Allan Caidic, Samboy Lim, Hector Calma and naturalized players Jeff Moore and Dennis Still ruled the event then known as Asian Basketball Confederation in January 1986 before the program was dissolved right after the People Power Revolution.

Several years ago, a similar program was created by SMART-Gilas, which was bankrolled by telecommunications tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan, and the all-amateur team represented by some of the finest amateur players at that time, represented the Philippines in elite competitions, including the Olympic Qualifying 2011 FIBA Asia Championship.

Mr. Mascariñas, president of the Bounty Agro Ventures, the mother company of Chooks To Go, said he wants to follow the path of the NCC and SMART-Gilas by offering maximum salary to full-time players of the national team.

“We’re making this offer that we’re willing to finance full-time national team players if we can work something out with the SBP and the PBA,” Mr. Mascariñas told sportswriters.

“As an incentive for them, we’re willing to give the maximum salary allowed in the PBA to the national player.”

These means that players like Kiefer Ravena, Ray Parks, Fil-German Christian Standhandinger, Raymar Jose and Almond Vosotros can avail of such offer as other players in the national team are already under contract with their mother teams in the PBA.

Kobe Paras is another non-PBA player in the national squad, but he’s already committed to play for Cal State Northridge, his collegiate team in the US. “Well, all Gilas players have contracts today with the PBA except for the guys who haven’t been drafted,” said Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas President Al Panlilio. “But I’m aware of the plans of Mr. Mascariñas.”

But while Mr. Mascariñas is making a bold offer, the next question is whether when or how long he could lure the players to continue playing for the national team on a full-time basis.

Players from the NCC and SMART-Gilas could stay on three years the most, but decided to move up to play in the PBA.

Mr. Panlilio said the SBP is willing to sit down with Mr. Mascariñas regarding his idea.

“SBP is willing to sit down with Mr. Mascariñas and discuss his idea. No discussions have been made yet with the SBP,” Mr. Panlilio said. -- Rey Joble