MANILA, July 11, 2005 
(STAR) THE GAME OF MY LIFE By Bill Velasco - It appears that the Philippine Olympic Committee, composed of several veteran and astute politicians as it is, has drafted a very good plan for conditioning the public to accept its maneuvering to take over basketball in the Philippines. Unfortunately for the POC, the facts seem to point the public in a different direction.

They say the Philippines can still play in the FIBA-Asia tournament in September as a wild card entry. Despite POC representativesí assertions, FIBA has categorically ruled this out in two ways. First, FIBA communications director Lora Foster stated that that "until further notice, the Philippines cannot play in any official FIBA competition," which obviously includes the tournament in Doha, Qatar in September. Secondly, FIBA has also stated that there is a possibility of a wild card entry only in the World Championships. But, to be eligible to become a wild card entry at that level, a country must have played in the FIBA-Asia championship. And since the Philippines did not see action in the SEABA, and hence, did not qualify for the FIBA-Asia championship ó thanks to the POC ó we cannot play in Qatar.

So why is the POC saying otherwise? Are they trying to say that their insistence on expelling the BAP has not done any damage to Philippine basketball? Are they trying to keep their sponsors from pulling out the millions of pesos they are spending for a PBA Philippine team that, technically, is not preparing for anything right now? And what about the economic impact of the absence of basketball in the coming SEA Games because of the FIBA ban?

Now letís go back to the basics, so weíre all clear on the role and powers of the Philippine Olympic Committee. In his book, "The Olympic Movement in the Philippines", former POC president Celso Dayrit details the history, powers and roles of the Philippine Olympic Committee. Dayrit states: "The Olympic Movement is, therefore, the result of cooperation of the International Olympic Committee, the National Olympic Committees, the International Sports Federations, the National Sports Associations, and all other similar organizations."

It does not say that the POC can tell the BAP what to do. In fact, the POCís power only extends to composition of teams for international multi-sport competitions that are part of the Olympic Movement. That does not include the SEABA, and hence, the FIBA-Asia tournament.

BAP secretary-general Graham Lim has said that their memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Philippine Olympic Committee states that they would cooperate with the POC. In any dictionary, you will not find the words "cooperation" and "subjugation" to mean the same thing. Cooperation means to work together, not for one party to tell the other what to do. What the POC keeps saying, even in official communications to FIBA, is that the BAP has been "intransigent."

For the unenlightened, the dictionary meaning of the word "intransigent" from Spanish and Latin is "refusing to compromise". The BAP has been communicating with the POC, and even allowed for joint practices between the full-time RP SEABA team and a bunch of PBL players to cooperate with the POC. They have never boycotted any of the POCís general assemblies, even when they were not allowed to speak up, or were not listened to. But when the coaches of the RP SEABA team were blatantly being ignored by the POC-appointed coaching staff for three consecutive practices, the BAP realized that this was not "cooperation." They were being railroaded, so they continued with their own practices so as not to lose any of the system the team had developed. Cooperation implies compromise. The POC has adopted an approach of "my way or no way." So who is being "intransigent"?

Incidentally, if the RP SEABA team was a "team of trash" as some basketball officials were quoted in the papers as saying, why were its players able to soundly defeat the PBL selection in those scrimmages?

The POC claims that its new Philippine Basketball Federation represents the "major stakeholders" in Philippine basketball. FIBA and this writer are asking the same question: what stakeholders? First of all, the PBAís position is clear. They backed out of the PBF, and have not rescinded their MOA with the BAP. And how come nobody from the present board of the UAAP and NCAA has publicly come out (or said in writing) that they are backing up the PBF? If you look at the basketball people involved, they are mostly former leaders of the sport, who do not have any current positions in the major basketball bodies. Some are respected, thatís true, but otherwise have no formal affiliation at present. Is this why the POC is scrambling to find sympathetic regional directors, so they can anoint another former sports leader (who incidentally, has not been involved in basketball) as their PBF president? And are they reportedly so afraid that the BCAPís Chito Narvasa will win this "election" that theyíve had to do that? What is the real reason their first election hasnít pushed through up to now?

Next, when a National Olympic Committee in other countries ó as in the example of India ó expels a national sports association, there must be some form of arbitration. And when an NSA is suspended, there has to be a suitable period of time before that NSA is ultimately expelled. Obviously, the POC has been following its own timetable, and not the protocol established by typical National Olympic Committees.

There are other things the Philippine Olympic Committee may be overlooking. One of the obligations of all IOC members is "To inform the IOC President without delay, of all events liable to hinder the application of the Olympic Charter or otherwise affect the Olympic Movement." Has the POC informed the IOC of its expulsion of the BAP? Remember, it took them two weeks to send the BAP a written notice of suspension in the first place. They made sure it made all the newspapers first.

Also from the Olympic Charter, a National Olympic Committee "commit themselves to taking action against any form of discrimination" and "opposes any political or commercial abuse of sports and athletes." Is the POC opposing or initiating political abuse and discrimination against the BAP? You be the judge.

By the way, why havenít we heard anything from the POC regarding preparations for the SEA Games, which is, based on the Olympic Charter, one of its highest priorities?

What else are we going to be conditioned into believing?

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Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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