The long and winding road back to the elusive Asian Cage throne

July 19, 2006

The Philippines was once the basketball king of Asia. Thought to be merely invincible in Asia – untouchable as one would say. The class that past Philippine teams showed during the Pre and Post-World War 2 era was simply at par with the world’s best.

➤ Alas, from the glory days came the horrors of Philippine basketball.

➤ Here a national story begins. Pilipinas was once the most decorated of all Asian nations in the land of basketball. A mighty powerhouse in the Olympics and the World basketball from the 1930s to 1950s era. Unfortunately, due to extremely growing strong opposition from Asia and lack of a solid grassroots and training program, the Asian dark horse lost its’ glory.

➤ The famed NCC project was initiated to redeem good ground, but it was short-lived. The goal of regaining the great Philippine dream was soon lost after the NCC grassroots basketball program during the Marcos era was abandoned.

➤ The downfall of Marcos also served as a sure death sentence to NCC. It could have been rebuilt but nobody cared – then came the BAP era.

➤ For a national team to exceed expectations, a solid and continuous program must be implemented. Unfortunately, such a meticulous project was not an option in the political landscape of Philippine sports after the Marcos era. When the NCC was dissolved, BAP grabbed and hugged the spotlight with gusto.

➤ The BAP program was meant to represent the Philippines as a basketball darkhorse in Asia but to no avail. Since BAP stepped into the scene – rag-tag national teams were formed to be fed into lion’s den. Granted, there were times that they produced medals but these were against obscure teams in unknown leagues. It appeared that the BAP just wanted to represent the Philippines for the sake of participation and not to bring worth to national cage pride as a whole.

➤ With BAP horror stories igniting the headlines, the PBA finally stepped in to offer their manpower.

➤ Enter the PBA. The PBA sports the finest Pro talent in the realms of RP basketball – the best in Asia, yet the best they can offer was a short stint to the Asian games. The ABC and the Olympic qualifying tournaments were never represented by the PBA in the past. So to say, almost every team sent to the international meets other than the Asian games were a complete humiliation.

➤ Underrated college teams and ball clubs were regularly sent by BAP to represent the Philippine tri-colors against the best of Asia. The PBA never promised to represent the Philippines in any competition other than the Asian Games.

➤ A fuel was direly needed to spur the PBA to lease more of their arsenal.

➤ And what better fuel than nationwide humiliation. The infamous Busan Asiad stint saw the well-prepared and equipped PBA national Team fall into the lucky howitzer of Korea’s Lee Sang Min.

➤ The aftermath was a PBA organization hell-bent to regain lost Filipino glory – not only in the Asian scope – but the Olympics and World Basketball as a whole.

➤ Surely it was a great day for all Filipinos – until BAP again ruined everything the PBA has prepared for. FIBA suspended the Philippines because of the dispute between the POC (Philippine Olympic Committee – the superior sports body) and the BAP and directly shut down any chance by the RP team for the elusive Olympic dream.

➤ The conflict stemmed from the controversial loss of the BAP-formed national team bound for SEABA led by Boysie Zamar to the infamous Paranaque team. POC suspended BAP due to incompetency and stopped it from further representing the country internationally and bring more embarrassment to the nation.

➤ The BAP, however, shunned the directive and held the national cage community hostage to its’ power. BAP could have stepped aside for the benefit of the country, but pride and grip to power were too stiff a price to let go of. The result – an indefinite FIBA suspension, thereby rendering any RP National Teams unable to represent the country in any FIBA-sanctioned competitions.

➤ In hindsight, FIBA could have just accepted POC’s replacement of BAP which was either the PBFI or Team Pilipinas (both of which are highly credible organizations as supported by the major basketball stakeholders in the Philippines which include the UAAP, NCAA, PBL, and PBA). FIBA implemented the suspension nonetheless. No amount of pleading changed its’ stance.

➤ With the best talent around and the most well-prepared training for a team in the history of PBA, this is the biggest disappointment for all the Filipino fans around the world. Filipinos cannot let this continue. Whether the PBFI (the newly formed basketball body) or Team Pilipinas be approved or not, the BAP deserves to be suspended – not the PBA RP team.

➤ The Philippine PBA-RP Team is still at par with the best of Asia and deserves to be allowed to play internationally. In lieu of this, we urge Filipino fans around the world to converge and unite in support of the campaign of the PBA-Philippines to regain the lost glory of the basketball dynamo of Asia.

Posted on July 19, 2006

Editorial by Rock Punzalan for Philippine Basketball News Team