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MELANDREW VELASCO: SMC and Philippine Sports

The just concluded 2023 FIBA World Cup, co-hosted by the Philippines, was a much-awaited event by Filipinos especially basketball fans in the country.

The hosting was the second for the country after 45 years.

Despite suffering defeat in prior matches with other teams in the group, Gilas Pilipinas was able to win convincingly over the team from China. Some friends of mine are still agog over the win while others, for the sake of discussion, analyzed what went wrong in the earlier matches against teams from the Dominican Republic, Angola, Italy and South Sudan.


In the history of sports, the Philippines has hosted several international competitions. In recent times, it hosted the 30th Southeast Asian Games held from November 30-December 11, 2019 in four designated hubs for the sporting events.  Filipino athletes garnered for the country 387 medals, outranking the other participating countries. Of these medals, 149 were gold, 117 silver and 121 bronze.


In hosting sports competitions, especially international in nature, partnership with the private sector is necessary. Expenses for the holding of such cannot be borne by the government alone.


To their credit, many business entities in the country are actively supporting the hosting of sports competitions in the country.


For the 2023 FIBA World Cup, among the major sponsors for the country’s co-hosting was San Miguel Corporation (SMC) and MVP Group of Companies. SMC signed a partnership with FIBA and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas as a major sponsor for the event.


One of the most diversified conglomerates in the country, SMC under the leadership of its President and CEO Ramon S. Ang, is also known as a patron for sports.
It actively participates in local sporting events.

In the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), three basketball teams are owned by SMC. These are Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Gin Kings, Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok, and San Miguel Beermen, which are among the most popular professional basketball teams in the country.


To complement its sports development program, SMC built the SMC Sports Complex in Pasig.


It also supports the annual Philippine Sportswriters Association Awards that recognizes athletes, officials and organizations and their significant contributions to Philippine sports.


In the country’s quest for an Olympic gold, SMC has supported the Filipino athletes. For several years, it backed Hidilyn Diaz who bagged the country’s first Olympic gold medal during the Tokyo Olympics. SMC gifted the Tokyo Olympics medalists P22 million cash incentives with Diaz receiving P10 million. The other recipients were Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam, and Eumir Marcial. 
Last year, it was reported that SMC has committed to build a P50-million sports center in Balayan, Batangas to help develop homegrown athletes and as part of SMC’s support for sports 
development.


Ang also announced that a state-of-the-art race track will be built in Bulacan near the New Manila International Airport.  It will be a three-and-a-half kilometer racetrack with a car park and garage.  There will also be a drag strip. This is good news for those who are into car racing or motorsports.


At the just concluded Asian Games in China, the Philippines captured four gold, two silvers and 11 bronze medals. Our basketball through the Gilas Pilipinas with  Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Gin Kings’ coach Tim Cone recaptured the championship in Asian basketball after 60 years. The Gilas Pilipinas got also support from SMC sports director Alfrancis Chua who was team manager.  It was Cone who coached the basketball national team that bagged the gold in the 2019 SEA Games. The national team which he guided in the 1998 Asian Games won the bronze medal.


Our athletes have worked hard and shown they can become world-class, not only in basketball but also in other sporting events.


The triumph of Filipino athletes should inspire others to believe they can achieve more. Their successes should also inspire the concerned agencies and organizations to develop stronger 
sports programs.


There are many promising young men and women in sports who are not able to fully develop their potentials because they do not have the opportunities of being trained and coached.  It is the quality of the athletes’ training and preparedness that determines how they will perform in a sports competition.


The late President Fidel V. Ramos, himself a sportsman, regarded the promotion of sports consciousness as a vital aspect of people empowerment. “For sports not only strengthens the body but also fortifies the will to win, encourages the desire to excel, and proves one’s capabilities in the competitive arena of sports and life,” he said during the opening of the Palaro 
Games in 1995.