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MANILA — Senate Majority Floor Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, seated at sideline during the recent PBA All-Star Game between Gilas Pilipinas and an all-pro selection coached by Tim Cone, has urged unwavering, unconditional support for Gilas, the national basketball team.

“Sports is one area where Filipinos unite. Whether in boxing or basketball or volleyball, we come together for our Philippine team,” said Cayetano. “Kaya lang kung minsan, ang mali natin, ang suporta natin sa kanila eh kapag nananalo lang. Sana manalo man o hindi, nakasuporta tayong lahat, lalo na ang private sector.”

Boxers, for instance, Cayetano said, should get assistance long before they become champions.

“Sana pag nagsisimula pa lang sila, yung hindi pa sila kilala, may suporta na agad ang private sector na nakabuhos para sa kanila,” he said. “That’s why I’m urging more of them to help our sports programs.”

Telecommunications tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan, head of SBP and ABAP, has been in the forefront of such private sector support for Philippine sports.

In a related development, former Ateneo star Greg Slaughter, who is the likely No. 1 pick in this year’s PBA Rookie Draft, is being eyed by Gilas Pilipinas to play in the Southeast Asian Games and Asian Games.

The 7-foot Slaughter, who was a key player in helping Ateneo win two of its last five championships, has submitted his name to the PBA Draft set on Nov. 3.

If he withdraws his name from the draft, Slaughter might join the cadet team supervised by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.

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A source said that the plan is for the cadets to play in the Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar and perhaps also in the Asian Games.

But after Gilas Pilipinas – composed of PBA players – won the silver medal in the last FIBA Asia Championship here, several sports leaders have suggested to have the same team for the Asian Games which will be held several days after the World Championship in Spain next year.

At the moment, Gilas Pilipinas has six players from the collegiate ranks in its cadet pool — ex-Letran star Kevin Alas, Far Eastern University’s RR Garcia, Fil-Am Matt Roser Ganuelas, one-time San Sebastian player Ronald Pascual, and former San Beda stars Jake Pascual and Garvo Lanete.

Slaughter, 25, played for two years with the original Smart Gilas Pilipinas under Serbian mentor Rajko Toroman. He was also a candidate for Gilas during the last FIBA Asia. (Manila Bulletin)