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.


Mike Lao said...

Yeah! It IS worth it... thanks for the great post and sharing the passion of many basketball fans in the Philippines. I hope that one day, we are proud enough to say that we have a top-notch basketball team that can compete with the other countries in the world.

Anonymous said...

Jude, the PBA's decision to help the national team is very worthwhile. I hope the league shortens its calendar next season and adds a short invitational tournament with the two champion teams plus the RP team with three foreign teams.

And let's also hope the PBA implements more FIBA rules like the possession arrow rule so that the PBA players can get used to such rules in future international tournaments.

Anonymous said...

i think its much better if we all "unite". wala ng sisihan.. period.

"sabi nga bilog ang bola" all we need to do is build the national team, Pride of the country.

PBA players are good players. even we finished 9th at FIBA, we still have the game. magagaling na sila no doubt. pero kailangan pa rin natin at least 2 big men na magaling. mga 6'11 and 7'0. I mean
(who can play good defense and a lil' bit offense). kaya na natin talunin yan c MING YAO.. wee!hehe

so next time na maglalaro ang national team sa FIBA,ASIAN GAMES (HOPEFULLY OLYMPICS). wala na fear and magkaroon sila ng confidence.
sana i-limit ang pagpapalaro sa mga fil-ams. ipalaro natin un purong pilipino..

ang dami naman magagaling..
cyrus baguio, mac cardona, willie miller, james yap, winie arboleda, arwind santos..lets give them a chance to play in the international tournament.
so coaching staff.. wag na tayo kumuha ng coach na "ma-reklamo" yun konti tawag ng ref. aangal. tsk. kunin natin na coach yun magaling, matalino sa basketball. never say die. kung pwede lang sana mag coach si former Senator Robert Jaworski siya na lang sana.
that's it.. GOODLUCK PBA. next season BTV na rin ang pba. sana matulungan niyo sa improvement ang "team pilipinas basketball" sir jude.

team pilipinas basketball supporter

JQUIZ. said...

Yes, all boils down to passion of the Pinoy for the game.

And no better way than sending the BEST players--- because as a nation, more than the PBA or any other team that will be sent--- that is our responsibility to the people and the game...

Anonymous said...

we have a bright future for philippine basketball.

sir jude please support filipino players like,


sana sa mga susunod na FIBA asia or other qualifying tournament isama na ng PBA sa line up ito.. i think yun height nila makakatulong sa rebounds and defense ng team pilipinas.

goodluck PBA!

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