The sad part about Philippine Basketball is that the leaders who are involved in the mess we’re in all seem to think they are doing the right thing. History has proven that those who sacrificed self for the greater good leave a lasting legacy for future generations to be grateful for and benefit from. Unfortunately in some cases, the greater good is not enough to merit the sacrifice from those involved.
It is so frustrating to us outsiders to observe how simple sacrifice would have advanced the cause of our basketball program this past decade or so. The Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) has been unsuccessful in tapping the best talents to at least give our country a semblance of respectability.
Although I disagreed with the reasons and even the process of kicking out the BAP from the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) which led to our eventual suspension from FIBA, it was obvious that something had to be done to improve our performance in international tournaments. Pilipinas Basketball (PB), a group created to supposedly replace the BAP in the POC was not recognized by FIBA which complicated things. Only after an initial breakthrough in Bankok where representatives from all groups (PB and BAP including FIBA) decided to put selfishness aside for the good of the country did FIBA lift the suspension.
The new group formed, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) had a lot of promise. It had the resources and clout to get the best players. It had the support of the most influential basketball organizations like the PBA, PBL, and the UAAP. And it seemed to have an adequate network of coaches and officials to implement grassroots programs nationwide. It was supposed to be a triumph in human cooperation where two opposing groups put their pride and differences aside and work toward a common goal.
The SBP actually got a lot of people excited about basketball again. Manny Pangilinan, a respected and successful business person and a known supporter of sports, was elected president as FIBA required someone who was neutral from bothPB and BAP to head the new organization. The PBA gave its full support by adjusting their calendar and lending its resources. The PBL followed suit lending players for qualifying tournaments within the region. The youth program got financial backing while the women’s team started overachieving in tournaments abroad. Progress was actually noticeable.
So why, despite the steps forward, is there still division and efforts to derail all that has been achieved. Just like the POC, politicians are leading the charge for the BAP, which should have ceased to exist if the Bankok agreement was to be followed. The group started to disregard the efforts of the SBP. They began organizing their own tournaments and electing their own officers in blatant defiance of the latter. The SBP on their part, armed with written letters of support from the POC and FIBA, discouraged participation in the BAP tourneys.
Now the BAP has found a judge named Antonio Eugenio to go along with their cause and declared the SBP elections null and void while affirming their own. I reckon the SBP will appeal the decision and more legal mumbo jumbo will happen. But why is a judge even involved in the first place? The court stated that it was not impressed by the presence of the POC and the recognition by FIBA during the SBP elections. Is there just too much pride to go around that a judge with no stake in the matter deems practically irrelevant the governing bodies who have the most authority on the subject?
All of us just want Philippine international basketball to flourish once again. I’m sure there have been some feelings hurt with exclusions from certain processes and even moves that might have made the other “marginal”. Great men work past wounded pride and continue to journey toward the greatest good.
In basketball, the winners are the ones who are willing to do whatever it takes for the good of the team. Those who are willing to give up individual glory and focus on team victory. Those who know his teammates’ strengths and weaknesses and compliment them with his own. Those who step up in crucial moments of the game and deliver when needed.
With this new development from branch 24 of the Manila Regional Trial Court, we are once again at a crossroads. Our country is at risk of suspension if FIBA decides that we really cannot function as one.
Are we going to be bitter or better? Are we going to be winners or whiners? Can Philippine Basketball deliver in the clutch? Let’s hope all the fumbles and turnovers can be overcome in the endgame.