OUTSIDE LOOKING IN: Sad and bright sides of Philippine-Australia basketball riot
By Eddie Alinea
08 Jul 2018
GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- Knock on wood.
Pray and hope that the FIBA (International Basketball Federation), the world’s ruling body for basketball, will be kind enough to spare the Philippines from suspension and, thus, banned the country from participating in all its sanctioned tournaments in the duration of the would-be suspension, if ever there will be.
This, may come as an offshoot of the tumultuous players fight-marred Philippine-Australia matchup Monday last week in connection with the on-going FIBA-Asia qualifying series.
Suspension, especially for a long period of time, would mean not seeing the Filipinos play in all basketball competitions held and recognized by FIBA as the Olympic Games, Asian Games, Asian Basketball Confederation (now FIBA-Asia) championship and even the lowly Southeast Asian Games and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Basketball Championship, which the country suffered in the 60s and early 2000s – the first two times FIBA did ban the Philippines.
Basketball being the nation’s favourite pastime, such a ban, sure, will come as a big blow to the Filipinos’ pride especially because the country is in deep preparation for the coming Asian Games middle of this year, the 2019 SEA Games scheduled here, 2020 Olympic in Tokyo and the country’s hosting of the 2003 FIBA World Cup.
The Philippines was first suspended by FIBA after the then President Diosdado Macapagal’s administration banned the entry of Yugoslavia, Russia and other East European communist countries to the country to take part in the Second World Basketball Championship the country was hosting in 1962.
The tournament was reduced to a mere invitational. The world tournament instead was moved back to Brazil for the second time in three tournaments. The suspension was lifted though in time to allow the Philippines a place in the 1966 Asian Games in Jakarta where the country was dethroned as Asiad champion following four straight title conquests that started in 1950.
Proof that the Philippines had regained its status as FIBA member of good standing was when it was awarded with the hosting of the world tourney 16 years later in 1978, considered then and until the present time, as the best world championship ever organized.
We looked to continue to enjoy such standing when political bickering in the then regulatory body Basketball Association of the Philippines and the Philippine Olympic Committee cropped up in the early 2000s leading FIBA to suspend anew its recognition of the Philippines.
Resulting in the embarrassment of seeing the removal of basketball in the calendar of the 2005 Manila SEA Games calendar and barred the Filipinos from the basketball competitions in the 2006 AsIan Games. This despite efforts of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, the new ruling body for the sport which replaced the BAP, to save the situations.
Last week’s incident, considered as a black mark in Philippine basketball history, ended on a bright note though thanks to Filipino-American big man Troy Rike sort of lent decency to the shameful come brawl and earned a commendation from the international basketball community.
The 22-year-old member of the PH cadet squad had the presence of mind to cover Australia’s Chris Goulding during the melee. Goulding had already fallen on the floor when Rike shielded the Boomer from Filipino fans, players and team officials alike, who appeared ready to mob the guard.
His act drew praise from Team Pilipinas sponsor Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. president Ronald Mascariñas, who said that Rike “saved our country” on Monday night.
“Kung hindi sa action ni Troy Rike, basag 'yung ulo nung nakahiga na 'yun. By protecting this person, nakita niya 'yung (magiging) repercussion. Even with his youth, he saw things beyond that moment,” Mascariñas said.
As a token of his appreciation, Mascariñas awarded Rike a check of P100,000 which the latter donated to a Philippine and an Australian charitable institutions.
“I'm new with the team. So when I found some incentives are to be given to the players, I was very happy," Rike said. "And I made the decision to take some of that money and do something good with it. I'm planning to split it and give P50,000 to a Filipino charity and P50,000 to an Australian charity as well," he said.
After learning of Rike’s plan, Mascariñas matched the player’s donations by giving another P100,000 to the same charities.
SBP, meanwhile, through its president Al Panlilio, braced for the worst possible sanctions as FIBA started its probe on the bench-clearing brawl.
"Like in business, you have to expect the worst-case scenario and really prepare for it," Panlilio said, adding he expects suspensions to be handed to several players and sanctions slapped on SBP, based on previous penalties FIBA sanctioned melees.
Panlilio and fellow sports leaders can perhaps remind players and athletes tasked with representing country international competitions that in doing so, they’re carrying the country’s colors in said comptitions and, therefore, should be careful in their behaviour.
Unlike before, whenever we send sports delegations overseas, members were taught on how to behave properly to protect country’s image. Ngayon hindi nangyayari ito. Pati nga mga opisyal hindi maganda ang ikinikilos.
This OUTSIDER is one in praying that FIBA sees the bright side of Monday’s shameful incident and not the Philippines recidivism having been suspended twice already.
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