Wednesday, July 30, 2008

On Rules and Uniforms

We need rules to have a semblance of order in how we interact as human beings.  Some are unwritten but understood by everyone involved as law and should be followed without question.  Most are documented as to not have any uncertainty for all concerned.  Some of the rules are more important than others as they have heavier consequences.

In basketball, similar circumstances can be applied.  There are some unwritten, where if you play and follow the sport, you know it’s part of the game, and there are some official guidelines written in a rulebook to get everyone on the same page.  Some are also more important than others.

For those who know basketball, there is an unwritten rule that you acknowledge your teammate who passed you the ball that led to a basket by pointing to them after the play.  You also never undercut a player while he’s in midair.  And you shouldn’t talk back to your coach during a game.  All these “understood” rules have different levels of consequences if not followed.  Whether it’s not getting the ball more often, being on the receiving end of an unwanted retaliation elbow, or sitting on the bench longer than normal, the result reciprocates the rule broken.

Through the many decades of their existence, the UAAP and the NCAA have written and revised many rules for their basketball tournament.  Player eligibilities, uniforms, game play, citizenship, and even the time allotted for cheerleaders to perform have regulations.  All are important to uphold the integrity, order, and credibility of the league.  But again, some should be more significant than others.

A few weeks ago, Sam Ekwe of San Beda College (SBC) Red Lions, along with Kirk Long and Vince Burke of the Ateneo (ADMU) Blue Eagles wore uniforms with a slight difference from the rest of their teammates.  All three were in violation of not wearing their official team uniforms since some sponsor logos and the like were different or missing compared to the rest of their teammates.  Both the Red Lions and the Blue Eagles won their matches convincingly.  The opponent of SBC, the College of St. Benilde (CSB) filed a protest.  The University of the Philippines (UP) who played Ateneo during their game in question did not.  The CSB protest resulted in the forfeiture of the SBC win.

For whatever reason given, whether valid or not, SBC and ADMU broke the rules.  The NCAA was absolutely correct to follow their rules in taking away the win of San Beda if that was the written law.  No interpretations needed.  You wear the wrong uniform while playing on the court, the game is an automatic loss for your team.  If UP filed a protest, the UAAP would have probably followed their rules which I reckon are similar to the NCAA’s and would also ruin their top team’s undefeated season at that point. That’s how it is in real life and that’s how it should be in basketball.

Inside and outside basketball, rules are made giving different levels of penalties commensurate to the offense.  Within any given game, different violations merit different results.  Free throws, technical fouls, turnovers, and the like are granted for various infractions. 

Along the same lines, I do believe that both leagues have to consider different levels of penalties for different infractions for future seasons.  Giving a victory to a team who was obviously outplayed on the court because an opposing player wore a slightly different uniform doesn’t seem right.  Fielding a player who did not pass the eligibility requirements is a much graver offense than having an extra logo on your jersey.  But both have the same consequence.  There are other ways to reprimand lighter violations.  A monetary fine, a suspension for that player during the next game, or even community service are options.  The UAAP slapped two technical free throws in favor of Ateneo in their first game against La Salle when Franz Pumaren failed to wear a required ID.

Life is not much different.  All actions don’t all have the same consequences.  Whatever rules we have in court, corporations, schools, clubs, fraternities, organizations, associations, and all other groups, the penalties are derived from the gravity of the felony.  Those who arrive late for meetings are not as accountable versus those who don’t arrive at all.  Those who steal won’t be serving the same amount of jail time as those who kill.  And of course those who wear the wrong uniforms to school would have a better chance to make it up compared to those who fail a final exam. 

Players should wear the right uniforms just as they should pass their courses in school.  But let’s keep in mind which one is more important and penalize accordingly.

That’s how it is in real life and that’s how it should be in basketball.

JRU Continues to Move Up

Jose Rizal continues it's hot streak and has climbed all the way to #6 after a very slow start. Ateneo and Letran stays undefeated to keep their top spots accordingly. CSB with an added forfeit win also enters the list again.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Upset City!

We got our biggest upset of the year so far with UE falling to Adamson for their second loss. SBC also got upset by JRU along with their forfeiture but those results will be reflected in next week's rankings.
The rankings are getting more interesting and exciting with upsets starting to happen and some teams turning thing around like the Heavy Bombers.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Is Basketball Worth It?

THE building and maintaining of a long-term national-team program for basketball has long been a project many have attempted to be a part of. For those who have been around long enough to remember, it’s true that the Philippines was at one time considered the best in Asia and certainly world class in the sport. But many who follow basketball now weren’t even born yet (yours truly included) when that happened and most of us now continue to wonder if it’s still worth spending the time, money and energy to try to get back some of that old glory again.

It’s still a wonder to me as to why Filipinos, despite the lack of height and athletic ability, love basketball so much. We play it, and follow it with a passion like no other sport. The money spent on basketball exceeds all other sports combined. The country overflows with basketball tournaments and leagues for all levels of talent. The availability of hoops on television has got to be more than any other country in the world. Basketball TV has the NBA, the PBL, the Euroleague, WNBA, the NBDL, FIBA, and whatever else worldwide tournament there is. Then there’s Liga Pilipinas to add to the PBA and the UAAP/NCAA. If you count all the different leagues and tournaments, there are now over 1000 games shown on Philippine TV with only 365 days in a year.

With so much obvious interest and passion, we as a country cannot turn our backs on building the best national team possible. The now-defunct Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) embarrassed our country when they were in charge of the country’s relationship with FIBA, the worldwide body who runs the basketball affairs. Once, we even sent the team from the Philippine College of Criminology to represent the country, a college that would’ve been lucky to be considered in the top 20 in the Philippines. 

The new group Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) seems to have more direction and less self-serving intentions. We appreciate the PBL and Mikee Romero and others who have helped the SBP and sacrificed for the country, but unless we have PBA players, we will not have a chance outside Southeast Asia. With pro players, a ninth-place finish in Asia is a big disapointment. Without the pro players, we languished between the 12th and 16th spots in Asia. Our hearts can only take us so far, we still need enough talent to go along with it.

The PBA last week declared once again to commit their players and resources to build a national program. When I headed the marketing of the PBA four years ago, the participation of the league toward a national team was in my mind crucial to the league’s popularity and a goodwill gesture toward the basketball community. The best players, coaches and technology belonged to the PBA. I bought into Noli Eala’s vision that in order to make the pro league popular again, a full commitment was needed to the Philippine team. The PBA calendar was adjusted to coincide with the FIBA schedules. Now, commissioner Sonny Barrios along with the Board of Governors are recommitting the league after a disappointing ninth-place finish in the FIBA Asia Championships. The risk is there. Ticket sales and ratings have been known to drop when the focus is taken out of the actual PBA tournament and shifted to the national team. And what if we finish ninth again in the next qualifiers? It also costs many, many millions to build and sustain a team. Many say that we are spending too much money and paying too much attention to something that we don’t have a chance in being the best in the world at. 

So is it worth the risk? 

Absolutely. We as a race may not be as gifted or as talented in basketball, but our passion as a nation and our love for the sport counts for a whole lot. Basketball is our love. When you love something, you don’t settle for second best. So bring on all the risk and the problems that come with putting together the best national team as possible. We’ll let our love for the game figure out how to solve whatever comes our way. Our countrymen need to know that we are doing everything possible because the sport fuels our hearts. Sending another team like the Philippine College of Criminology is much more expensive alternative if you consider value for money, not to mention pride and credibility in the international community.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Eagles Fly High to #1

After convincing wins versus the defending UAAP champs and the UE Warriors who swept through the eliminations last year, Ateneo has taken the top spot as the only undefeated UAAP team left. SBC had a couple of close calls but remain with a clean slate along with Letran.

San Sebastian re-enters the top 15 replacing UP who got a rude awakening back to reality from a blowout by UST.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

U.P. Cracks the Top 15

Expectations have been low for State U this year after a winless season last year. After their opening game victory, the Fighting Maroons find themselves part of the Power Rankings list. Aboy Castro and his team gained a lot of confidence last Sunday and can get more upsets as the season progresses. I also had UP at #15 this week.

UE has been my #1 all three weeks with SBC at #2. ADMU for me holds on at #3 with their win against DLSU. CSB was the other team also making it for the first time while Letran continues to move up the list with each impressive performance. It seems that the San Beda inactivity made some voters relegate them to #3.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Case of the Missing ID

Everyone in Araneta seemed to be confused as to why Chris Tiu shot two free throws before the Ateneo-La Salle game even started.  The newspapers the next day attributed it to the violation of the Archer coaching staff by not wearing their ID's for the game.  

I actually thought it was because of an infraction that happened during the round robin warmups.  I was on the Patron area close enough to really see a lot of the action.  One of the DLSU players (I think it was Barua), in his eagerness and probably adrenalin leading up to the game dunked the ball and hung on the rim for a few seconds.  A whistle from a referee followed who saw what happened.  He then started talking to the player explaining that you can't hang on the rim even during warmups.  So when Tiu shot free throws before the jump ball, it seemed logical that the foul shots were because of a technical called for hanging on the rim.

Giving free throws for something unrelated to the actual game (like not wearing ID's) seems a little inappropriate.  Failure to follow rules unrelated to the game play should have consequences that are also unrelated to the game.  Maybe a monetary fine, some sort of reprimand was in order but not a penalty that has potential to effect the actual game.  

Now coach Pumaren is claiming selective implementation citing the UST coaching staff also guilty of the same violation but with no free throws given to the opponent.  

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

PCC Power Rankings Week 2

My list still had San Beda at number 2 with UE keeping the top spot. It looks like the Red Lions' performance against Mapua really made an impression with the voters as they have taken over the top spot. The Altas jump into the top 15 with their unexpected win and Letran inches up the rankings after their first game.

Next week's rankings will include the results of the first batch of UAAP games with Ateneo or LaSalle at least getting a loss and dropping a few notches in the rankings.

The Cebu rankings are also in from Cebu media for this week.