October 20, 2019
Has Philippine basketball turned so deteriorated that an all-PBA national team has to carry the country’s colors in the sport closest to the Filipinos’ hearts in the coming 30th Southeast Asian Games, the lowest form of multi-event conclave scheduled here late this year?
Yes, the Philippines, for the first ever time since it was admitted to the SEA Games Federation fold in 1977, will, definitely, play with players from the play-for-pay league when basketball hos-tilities unfold at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Sign that local basketball has indeed sank that low, was the appointment of American Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone to handle the still to be officially formed all-PBA squad.
Coach Cone, incidentally, is the PBA’s winningest bench tactician with 21 conference titles under his name, including a pair of Grand Slams he did while handling Alaska and later San Mig Coffee.
And considering the stature of the Philippines in the international caging community as the only Asian nation, so far, to win a medal in the FIBA World Cup (formerly World Championship) and the only country, too, to end up in an Olympic play, these twin moves by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, are considered an “overkill” by plain fans.
Isn’t it the belief before, and even now, that Filipinos are unbeatable in basketball in such a low form of international competition as the SEA Games?
The consensus then and now is even the lowest teams in both the UAAP and NCAA can win the SEA Games title against the national squads from the 10 other SEA Games countries.
And our national teams have proven that the past 42 years of seeing action in the biennial con-clave winning championships after championships 17 times in 19 editions of the once-every-two year conclave from 1977 up to 2017.
Before that 1989 debacle, The Filipino basketeers had won the diadems six consecutive times in 1977, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1985 and 1987.
We recaptured the crown in 1991 and defended it six times until 2013, two years before we were not allowed to compete due to suspension . We won it back again in 2007 when our suspension was lifted then kept the titles in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017.
If sending an all-pro selection to this year’s Games is an offshoot of the country’s dead last finish in the 32-team field of then-last FIBA World Cup, then it was an admission that, indeed, basket-ball in this part of the world is in the downslide, if not completely dead.
Will losing the SEA Games basketball championship, which we have earned and nurtured in near-ly five decades in this the 30th edition of the conclave be the last nail of the sport’s demise here?
Here’s hoping and praying it won’t be so.
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