OUR  HOOPHOUSES:  TIME  TO  CHANGE

MANILA, March 9, 2005 
(STAR) SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson  -  Most of the countryís top hoophouses are equipped with the world-renowned Porter basketball system. The PhilSports Arena, Ynares Center, Makati Coliseum and Cuneta Astrodome all use the competition portable model that is the norm in several National Basketball Association (NBA) facilities such as the Staples Center for the Los Angeles Lakers and the United Center for the Chicago Bulls.

But wait. Why is the No. 1 stadium, the Araneta Coliseum where most Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) games are held, sticking to the antiquated Hydra-Rib system?

Universal Sportsí Vic Eugenio, who is licensed to distribute Porter equipment here, said he has already sent proposals and quotations to the Araneta management for a change in basketball equipment.

Eugenio said he doesnít know how old the Hydra-Rib system is and estimated at least 10 years.

"Iíve had talks with the Araneta management," continued Eugenio who has supplied Porter systems in over 50 facilities, including schools and provincial multi-purpose centers, here. "They like the Porter hydraulic system being used in the Staples Center but their problem is what to do with the existing goals."

Getting rid of obsolete equipment should be the least of Aranetaís problems. Surely, there are stadium operators who would be more than willing to buy the Hydra-Ribs at a bargain. Or they could be donated to charity.

A Big Dome insider said one of the Hydra-Rib backboards has a crack on the plexiglass. Another noted that during a recent PBA game, the back support had to be readjusted after a thundering dunkĖnot by an import but by a local. The signs of wear and tear are clear. Itís time to change.

In the NBA, the rule of thumb is basketball goals are replaced every 10 seasons.

Eugenio said the cost of Araneta replacing the two basketball systems would be about $20,000.

"Itís worth the price," claimed Eugenio. "The new equipment comes with the 180-degree flexible goal with two torque bars and the perimeter lighting system, two exciting innovations."

Porterís international sales manager Carlos Castellon, whoís in town for a visit, explained the benefits of the innovations.

"The 180-degree adjustable flex goal is a state-of-the-art invention," said Castellon, an American of Cuban descent. "It flexes around a 180-degree arc at the front of the rim, at the sides and anywhere in between. That means the goal pivots in all directions. We tested it in the NBAís farm league, the National Basketball Development League, before putting it out in the market."

Castellon said the hoop has a 35 to 55 percent energy absorption capacity and the rims on both ends are within five percent of flexibility of each other.

"Rims get tired after taking all those dunks," Castellon went on. "You hear of soft and hard rims where the bounce of the ball varies. We make sure there is little or no variance and our rims are consistent."

As for the LED (light emitting diode) system, Castellon said a reddish radiance is automatically triggered at the expiration of the 24-second shot clock around the inside perimeter of the backboard.

Another Porter innovation is the use of powder-coating instead of quick dry enamel. About half of Porterís additional 45,000 square feet of factory space is for painting.

In the PBA, a bulb lights up to signal the end of the shot clock. The Porter system has both the bulb and the perimeter lighting.

Castellon said Porterís competition portables are now mostly made in China under strict supervision and using certain steel materials from the US. The finished goods are shipped to Porterís headquarters in Broadview, Illinois, in sets of six in a 40-foot container.

"We donít scrimp in the manufacturing process and we only use high-quality materials," said Castellon. "Our competition system weighs anywhere between 1,100 to 900 kilos. Our system is built to withstand the strongest dunks. Not even Shaquille OíNeal can damage our equipment and we once brought him to a gym to test our system."

Eugenio said Porterís reputation has made it easy to convince stadium operators to sign up.

"The Forbes Park gym will soon be finished and the basketball boards will be ceiling mounted with the 180 degree adjustable goals," said Eugenio. "The Roxas City gym has Porter equipment and I understand the PBA will play a game there next month. The Brent school in Subic will have Porter goals by July. The San Agustin College of BiŮan will have Porter goals by May. The IMI gym at the Laguna Technopark will have Porter goals by the end of this month. Weíve already equipped Far Eastern University, the Brent school in Baguio, the San Juan de Dios College and many more with Porter systems."

Castellon said he recently provided Porter systems for basketball, volleyball and futsal in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila.

"The state has a sports program with a social development orientation and we provided systems in 550 courts," he said. "The program is called Ďcanchas de la coloniaí and itís supposed to get youth involved in sports instead of hanging out with gangs and making trouble. We put up gooseneck anti-tampering basketball systems with rims that are guaranteed for life. For us, it was a pilot project. The Mormons found out about its success and now theyíve ordered 100 systems for their mission in Chile."

Castellon said because of Eugenioís glowing track record, he has been invited by Porter to represent the world leader in athletic equipment (established in 1868) in other Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia and Vietnam.

"Itís obvious that Filipinos know and love their basketball," said Castellon. "The sales of Porter systems in the Philippines are the highest in Asia and that only means Filipinos realize the importance of using the best."

No local facility is equipped with Porterís new perimeter lighting system. It would be only appropriate for the countryís mecca of sports, the Araneta Coliseum, to be the first to showcase this innovation here.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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