MANILA, OCTOBER 29, 2003 (BULLETIN) NOT WANTING to rock the boat while the country’s athletes are set to compete in the Vietnam Southeast Asian Games, Basketball Association of the Philippines, Inc. (BAPI) Secretary General Nic Jorge yesterday reiterated his group is keeping its doors open to the illegitimate Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) for possible partnership and quick settlement of their case.

The conciliatory move, Jorge said, is in line with the BAPI’s decision to gather all stakeholders in basketball and organize a “basketball superbody,” which Jorge said would provide the country with an honest solution to the problems plaguing the formation of national teams to various international competitions.

“We do not want to engage the BAP in a tooth-for-tooth confrontation,” Jorge said. “We have already won the battle, as the courts have said, but we do not want to displace well-meaning basketball officials. If we could talk things over, then well and good. Our doors are open as always.”

But Jorge, speaking before members of the Philippine Sportswriters Association during the PSA Forum at the Holiday Inn, said all parties must first abide by the court decision declaring the BAPI as the legal National Sports Association (NSA) for basketball in the country. The court’s ruling is final and executory, meaning the illegitimate BAP could no longer appeal.

Jorge also revealed BAPI’s efforts to inform the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) of the court’s decision while pursuing its recognition by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).

Jorge’s lawyer, Cecil Cinco, however, said the PSC and the POC are bound to follow the law. Their failure to do so, Cinco said, would open them to being cited for contempt by the court.

The PSC could also no longer provide financial assistance to the BAP, the lady lawyer said. The BAP’s office at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex (RMSC) would also be contested by the BAPI.

“The BAP could no longer occupy the office because its use would constitute to direct assistance by the PSC, which the law deems illegal,” Cinco said. “There are steps to effect the court’s order, including seeking the sheriff’s support or asking the PSC to simply recognize the court’s order and evict the BAP, which we did already.”

Jorge and Cinco was accompanied in the Forum by BAP Referees Commissioner Rolando Omampo, who claimed to have already gathered support from various groups all over the country in support of the BAPI.

Aside the the Philippine Basketball League, various basketball organizations and a number of officials from Cebu, Bacolod, Iloilo and many parts of Western Visayas have already thrown their support to the BAPI.

“Basta kami, we will exert all effort to gather and sit down with all the basketball leaders, including the officials of this BAP. But we have to settle first that the BAPI should be the legitimate group, and then pwede na naming isaayos ang basketball programs nating lahat. Para sa bayan natin ito,” Jorge said.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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