Opinion

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

Opinion:

Philippines - once a Basketball Superpower?

July 19, 2006

» All Time World Basketball Championships Medal Tally «
NationFlagGoldSilverBronze
United Statesus334
Soviet Unionsoviet332
Yugoslaviayugo332
Brazilbrazil222
Serbia and Montenegroserbia200
Argentinaargentina110
Spainspain100
Russiarussia020
Greecegreece010
Chilechile002
PhilippinesRP001
Croatiacroatia001
Germanygermany001

The Philippines remains to be one of the only top Asian nations to have ever landed in the medal tally of the prestigious history of World Basketball Championships. This is such a great feat that the Philippines made it in the history of basketball in terms of world basketball competition (as part of the only top ten world medal achieving nations) and in the history of Asia to be the only country to ever make it to such a notable standing.

➤ Basketball was introduced to the Philippines in 1901, by members of the American YMCA. The Philippine Amateur Basketball League was established in 1910. After that, basketball became a nationally popular sport in the Pearl of the Orient Seas. What many people didn’t know or even heard of is that the Philippines was truly one of the global superpowers in international cage hoops in the past – during its’ prime.

➤ In the 1936 Berlin Olympiad where the RP Team placed fifth, Philippines defeated Mexico 32-30 in the second round and toppled Estonia 39-22 in the third round. In the classification round of the same tourney, the Filipinos defeated the highly touted powerhouse Italy 32-14 and romped past Uruguay 33-23. Curiously, the Philippine delegation never made it to the Medal round (due to a controversial ruling) although it had not lost to any team except to the United States with the score of 56-23.

➤ The Philippine Team was ably led by Ambrosio Padilla (team captain), who later became a senator; the 6’1″ Charles Borck, Jacinto Ciria Cruz, Primitivo Martinez, Jesus Marzan, Franco Marquicias, Fortunato Yambao, Amador Obondo, Bibjano Quano, and Johnny Worrel. Also, the same games were played in a lawn tennis court (which was terribly hampered by a bad rainy weather), and the awards were given by no less than Dr. James Naismith.

➤ During the 1948 London Olympics, the Philippines landed a 12th place finish. The RP team was bracketed to Group B in the eliminations and posted a win-loss record of 3-2. The Filipinos massacred Iraq 102-30, marched past Korea 35-33, and stomped down on China 51-32. It lost its’ elimination assignments to Chile 68-39 and was upset by Belgium 37-35. The Philippines figured in a five-way tie in the elimination round and was ejected from the medal-round because of the point system implemented. In the classification round (non-medal competition), Philippines defeated the recent Olympic champions Argentina with a 45-43 score but bowed down to Belgium 38-34 and Peru 40-29.

➤ The Philippines was tied for 9th place overall in the 1952 Olympiad. The Filipinos found themselves in Group B in the preliminary round with 2-0 win-loss record by blasting Israel 54-47 and Hungary 48-35. The Pinoys advanced to the main tournament and showed its’ might against Canada 81-65, but eventually lost to Argentina 85-59 and Brazil 71-52. The 1956 Melbourne Olympics saw the Philippines bracketed in Group A in the Elimination round and made a 2-1 win-loss performance to land in 7th place over-all. They defeated Thailand 55-44 and Japan 76-61 but horribly succumbed to the USA with a dismal 121-53. In the quarterfinals, the Philippines defeated France with a 65-58 beating but bowed again to the physically playing Uruguay 79-70 and Chile 88-69. In the non-medal round, the Philippines took a sweet revenge to Chile 75-68 but stumbled down to Bulgaria 80-70.

➤ An 11th place finish was the best the Philippines can offer in the 1960 Rome Olympics. In the eliminations, the Filipinos were bracketed to Group D and made a 1-2 win-loss record by defeating Spain 84-82, but lost to Poland 86-68 and Uruguay 80-76. In the classification round, the Pinoys posted a 2-1 win-loss slate by beating down Puerto Rico 82-80 and Bulgaria 2-0 (forfeited), and fell to Hungary 81-70. In the second classification round, the Philippines handily pounded their way through Mexico 65-64 but lost to France 122-75.

➤ In the 1954 World Basketball Championships in Brazil, the Philippines staged the greatest mark in the history of the basketball-crazed nation, by taking the Bronze Medal in a show of power. Overall, the Philippines posted a 5-2 win-loss record and fell behind eventual champions USA and silver medalists Brazil – the hometown favorite.

The USA had the biggest scare in the tournament when they faced squarely with the Filipinos. Opening play in the final round, the U.S. was given a run for its money by the Philippines. Trailing by just three points at the half, 25-22, the Philippines squad rallied at the start of the second half and took a 31-26 lead. However, the USA offense got rolling and with three minutes remaining the USA had control 49-30 before finally settling for a 56-43 victory. The 6-6 forward Kirby Minter led the USA offense with 15 points.

➤ Although the Americans managed to post a strong win-loss slate of 9-0, they will never forget their memorable encounter with the formidable Filipino squad. The Filipinos, on the other hand, was led by Carlos “The Big Difference” Loyzaga – the team captain who won the Mythical Five award in the same tourney – for being the third highest individual scorer over-all.

➤ Loyzaga was also the first basketball player to be inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame. Also present in the line-up were Lauro Mumar, Florentino Bautista, Francisco Rabat, Benjamin Francisco, and the 6’2 Mariano Tolentino. The Philippines beat the favored Uruguay team, 67-63, to clinch the Bronze Medal on November 5, 1954.

➤ This mighty feat until now, remains unsurpassed in the realms of Philippine Basketball and Asia as a whole.

Posted on July 19, 2006

Written by Rock Punzalan for Philippine Basketball News Team