Basketball, Politics and Crab Mentality: A Concoction of Doom

by Mark Angelo Mañez

Basketball in the Philippines, once again took themselves in the spotlight–but for bad (or even worse) reasons.

Cartoon by Ace Lorico

Of course, there are reasons why the country continues sliding down in most sports, especially in basketball. It’s like going further back, instead of going forward. Not to mention the fact that we are going to host the FIBA Basketball World Cup in less than a year’s time.


Then, there comes the exodus of players who opt to bring their talent to other Asian leagues. Which, they think it's causing more bad than good if we talk about preparations for international tournaments.


What is really holding back our progress in this sport we have literally embraced since the Americans stepped on our country? And what measures (or countermeasures) have to be done to prevent it from getting worse?


Speaking of which, there has (or have) been squabbles and it seems that these may end up unresolved if not fixed or remedied before we welcome the world of its best basketball players next year.


First things first, recently, former Gilas Pilipinas (and concurrent Ateneo Blue Eagles) head tactician Tab Baldwin was 'terminated' from the program January this year, which sparked up serious fury from fans of the beloved American-Kiwi coach.


Subsequently, his successor Vincent ‘Chot’ Reyes made things turn for the worse after dropping several high-profile events (most specifically the Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam last May and the fallout at the FIBA Asia Cup in Jakarta barely two months after).


National team fans alike wanted the latter out of the program as well,  but that would take quite a heavy amount of time transitioning from one coach to another.


In light of all this, SBP then decided to make changes for the sake of the program’s continued stability for the long term. It would also avoid such a dilemma of having two high-profile mentors with different philosophies conflicting against each other.


IN SHORT, OUR STYLE OF BASKETBALL HAS FALLEN BACK IN RAPID REGRESS. Very much different from our neighbors who have adopted the European style of basketball, which has bore extensive results. And having different sets of coaches don't have similar results, as against teams that have only one person handling it.


Deeper in social media, Japan BLeague import Dwight Ramos and NBA superstar Jordan Clarkson expressed comments on the said matter, adding fuel to the fire. And further instigating clamor against the current.


While both players have contrasting comments, it only shows the fact that it deflates the team's morale, despite having high-profile stars in the roster. 


It’s confusing to think that instead of unifying all sectors (the general public, professional and collegiate leagues, and the SBP), it turns out this issue would cause such a downfall, a suspension coming from the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) might be handed down against our federation. Even worse, losing that lifetime chance of hosting the FIBA World Cup, all because of the squabble.


Speaking of the player diaspora, it's not just for the lucrative contracts that they are eyeing at. But more of the developmental aspect. Yes, the PBA may be Asia's first play-for-pay league. But with the huge disparity of league composition, this only causes serious complications in terms of balance and fair competition. 


Foreign leagues, like the Japan B.League, the Korean Basketball League, Taiwan's T1 League all have adopted adding Asian imports. Salary-wise, they offer much bigger contracts that are two to three times bigger than what the PBA offers to its players (tabbed at ₱450 thousand a month).


As for this dilemma, limiting opportunities to players also ruins their morale and chances of showcasing their real worth. Even potential rookies here would take the overseas route. 


But, what is to be done if ever we all want to avoid such a basketball calamity? Of course, all Filipinos want to witness the national team playing right before their very eyes. And having the best-assembled formidable lineup that can go toe-to-toe against the world’s best would definitely boost morale not only its players, but also the fans who arduously pushed them to go further.


Squabbling over constant coaching changes could might as well lead to serious repercussions if this issue further drags on leading to the World Cup next year.  And, this may affect everyone within the program. Also, limiting player skill development may put chances of a better WC finish at risk.


THESE ISSUES NEED URGENT, CONCRETE SOLUTIONS.


Filipino fans have to stay together behind the national team, whoever is the man handling the coach’s playbook. Whatever the result of their upcoming matches, whether winning or taking another setback, it has to be dealt with full responsibility. And be held accountable if things go in the wrong direction.


This isn’t the right time to argue who takes the reins in handling the team. The federation holds the key in resolving these fiery issues mentioned in this piece.


It’s your ball now, SBP. We’ll keep on tab with your further actions.

Previous Post Next Post