SENATORS were in fastbreak mode on Monday to draw a more lethal playbook for Philippine sports amid a winning season by Filipino athletes that Hidilyn Diaz kicked off with her golden lift at the Tokyo Olympics and capped by milestone performances by pole vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena and teen tennis sensation Alexandra “Alex” Eala just over the weekend.
Senator Sonny Angara told a Senate Committee on Sports meeting that he believes Philippine sports is “having a moment” now with the unprecedented achievements coming its way.
Angara noted how Filipino athletes have been delivering victories on different fronts, some of which are milestones in Philippine sports.
Angara cited the recent victory of Eala at the US Open junior tournament that gave the country its first Grand Slam singles title.
“I think Philippine sports is having a moment right now,” Angara said. “Alex Eala delivered the first tennis Grand Slam title in our history. Remember, Yuka Saso won the first grand slam in golf by a Filipina and Hidilyn Diaz gave us our first gold medal and our best performance in the Olympics.”
As chairman of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), Angara also aired his optimism on the future of Philippine basketball and expressed his support to the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) 2023 World Cup that the country is co-hosting with Japan and Indonesia in August 2023.
Angara said the preparations for the Fiba 2023 World Cup require a “whole of government, whole of society, whole of country approach.”
Committee chairperson Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go checked the preparations for the hosting and the readiness of the national team which will play in the World Cup.
“As we host the 2023 World Cup, we must take the opportunity to show the world that we are the sports powerhouse in Asia,” Go said. “We have what we call homecourt advantage in 2023.”
Also in Monday’s committee hearing:
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano sought the “fastbreak” amendment of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) charter so that the government can better provide a regular and annual budget for the body to invest more in Philippine sports. He said the government needs to be consistent in spending on sports facilities and athletes, and not only when the country earns the right to host any international games.
Senator Francis “Tol” Tolentino recommended the integration of the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines and other uniformed services commands in the PSC, noting that every time an athlete bags a medal from an international competition, he or she will be commissioned with a rank to the AFP and other services. He also suggested to the PNP Academy the inclusion of kickboxing in its curriculum, being the head of Kickboxing Association of the Philippines.
Senator Pia Cayetano urged the PSC to provide clearer training guidelines for athletes as she emphasized the need to consider their health and welfare, noting the rigorous training that athletes need to undergo not only for the national team but also for their respective commercial sports teams to the point of exhaustion. She stressed that exhaustion is not just an issue in basketball, but also in volleyball and other sports.
Senator Mark Villar enjoined government agencies and legislators to work together in helping basketball athletes improve their performance in international competitions as he underscored the importance of basketball as a sport and source of inspiration to Filipinos. He backed the Senate panel in finding out solutions to the problems being faced by the athletes, as well as their coaches and the SBP. He said he hopes the inquiry would bring about changes in policies and legislation “to bring back the glory of Philippine basketball in the international stage.”
Newly-appointed PSC Chairman Noli Eala, who graved the inquiry, said that the agency will “doggedly ensure that its mandates are implemented.”
Eala reiterated the PSC’s commitment to “care for Philippine sports like no other” as he briefed Senators on the status of amateur sports in the country.
He announced “a program that will ensure that when our athletes win, the entire country wins.”
“This is the theme on which my administration will center on,” Eala told the committee.
Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva and Senator Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa all manifested their support during the hearing to the PSC, the FIBA World Cup 2023 hosting and Philippine sports in general.