By Waylon Galvez
Almost a month ago, Gilas Pilipinas successfully defended the Southeast Asian Games title for the 14th straight time in front of a hometown crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Behind the successful run of the national team was the partnership of two basketball officials – Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio and San Miguel Corporation sports director Alfrancis Chua who worked together to form a competitive squad.
The basketball partnership inevitably led to an off-court friendship between the two top executives.
This coming Tuesday, however, when Barangay Ginebra and Meralco kick off the seven-game finals for the PBA Governors’ Cup, the two buddies will be on opposite sides of the court, helping plot the other team’s defeat.
“We’re friends but we are also competitors. It’s nothing personal,” said Panlilio, the Bolts governor. “These are two competing teams, and we always want to compete with the best.”
Panlilio added: “Our relationship goes beyond the PBA. Parehas naming gusto makatulong sa sports.”
Chua, who considers Panlilio one of his closest associates in the PBA board, said that while war may rage during the series, he knows they’ll be laughing at each other at the end of the finals.
“Kami tinginan lang kami, alam na namin… baka mag-inuman pa kami (after the Finals). Malalim pinagsamahan namin,” said Chua, the Ginebra governor.