Philippines, 29 May 2024
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OUTSIDE LOOKING IN: Basketball team's withdrawal from Asiad can jeopardize country's relations with OCA

Ricky Vargas.

It was a bad, ill-advised decision.

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas announced that it will no longer send a team to the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia ? a decision that may jeopardize the country?s standing with the Olympic Council of Asia (formerly Asian Games Federation) to which it has been a member since its inception in 1949.

The Philippines, in fact, is one of only two oldest members of the OCA, the other being Japan.

The 2018 edition of the Asian Games will open in August 18 and it is presumed that every single detail of the 18th staging of the quadrennial competitions among the best and the finest athletes from the 45-member nations of the region had been ironed out and finalized and, therefore, any changes in the schedule of events due to withdrawal, etc, will definitely disrupt the entire proceeding.

Under OCA's constitution and rules, withdrawal of an entry without consent shall be subjected to disciplinary actions.

Section 10 of Article 57 states: "The withdrawal of a duly entered delegation, Team or Athletes without the consent of the OCA, shall be the subject of disciplinary action as envisaged by the EB (Executive Board)."

According to the same by-laws, the EB can impose "financial and other penalties on any NOC (National Olympic Committee) which withdraws its team as in a whole from team competitions after the draw is completed. The penalty will be decided by the EB, on a case by case basis."

Philippine Olympic Committee president Ricky Vargas, whose position makes him, among others, not only the representative of the OCA in the country, but guardian as well of all its rules, expects monetary consideration in terms of fines that might be imposed as penalty for the pull out.

Forgetting, perhaps, or not informed of the the other half of the provision stating: ?xxx and other penalties on any National Olympic committee (NOC) which withdraws its team in a whole, from team competition AFTER THE DRAW IS COMPLETED (underscoring, this writer), the penalty will be decided by the Executive Board, on a case by case basis.?

Mr. Vargas, who welcomed the decision to withdraw, assured that the rest of the Philippine delegation will not be affected by this sudden pull-out.

Fine, but what about its effect on the four-year preparations host Indonesia undertook that, definitely, will disrupt the entire hosting of he Games and need re-doing with barely three weeks prior to the opening ceremonies?

Reason for the PH team pull out was centered on the suspension FIBA meted out on 10 national players, their assistant coach and head coach as an offshoot of the tumultuous melee that punctuated the Philippine-Autralia FIBA qualifying matchup the country hosted early this month.

The initial plan was to send a core of TNT players but everything changed after FIBA handed out suspensions on Gilas players, including TNT's Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo, Troy Rosario, and Roger Pogoy.

While the sanctions do not apply to the Asian Games, SBP decided not to send the suspended players to not further compound the issue. It added it planned to appeal the FIBA verdict and is the process of preparing for such plea for reconsideration.

Sports leaders, sportsmen, meanwhile, as well as former payers denounced the withdrawal as a bad, and ill-advised decision that compromises the country relations with OCA and even Olympic member nations.

?Simple lang. Participating in the Asian Games, Olympic Games and the likes is national commitment," former Philippine Sports Commission chair and Southeast Asian Games only back-to-back Most Outstanding Male Athlete awardee as a swimmer Eric Buhain, emphasized.

?Even if hindi sumuporta ang PBA to lend their players (which they did, actually) for the country naman, we should send a team, we can even send a college team if only to value our commitment,? Buhain said in a text message sent to this writer.

Robert Mananquil, secretary of the Billiards and Snooker Confederation and POC executive board member, shared Buhain?s sentiment saying the decision is ?very unsportsmanlike.?

Mananquil even citing the Olympic Creed: ?The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.?

Former national basketball coaches Joe Lipa and Arnel Vanguardia considered the SBP move as ?a sad day for Philippine basketball.?

So did youth baseball godfather Rodolfo ?Totoy? Tingzon Sr. who said the decision saddened him because ?the Philippines is known all over the world as the basketball capital in Asia an the Filipinos lover of the sport non-pariel.?

Many-time national cagers Jimmy Mariano, Felix Flores, Jimmy Manansala and Chito Bugia and basketball guru Orly Castelo all believe Asiad participation is imperative otherwise, ?we?ll lose our sports diplomacy among our Asian neighbors and sportsmanship to the host country.?

Des Bautista, whose family owns the University of Baguio and a high-ranking basketball and chess development official during his days, said since the decision to withdraw was part of the PH-Australia basketbrawl, ?maybe we should review our understanding of the word sports and that of being hosts.?

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eddie Alinea.

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