MANILA, July 26, 2005 
(STAR) By Abac Cordero - Moying Martelino was elected unopposed as president of the Philippine Basketball Federation yesterday and now faces the immediate and difficult task of having the new group recognized by the International Basketball Federation better known as FIBA.

"We hope that it will come as soon as possible," said the 70-year-old Martelino who brings with him a vast experience in basketball, being the former secretary-general of the Asian Basketball Confederation from 1987 to 1996.

Martelino being named PBF president came as a surprise since he was never mentioned as a candidate for the post. Chito Narvasa, president of the Basketball Coaches Association of the Philippines, and Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas both begged off from the position.

"This came all of a sudden. Dapat talaga si Congressman Gullas na but he begged off last night. He said heís already 75 years old and still a congressman so madaming trabaho," said Martelino, who will only assume the post until May next year.

The gray-haired Martelino failed to explain why his term has been set for only 10 months. But it will be 10 months of hard work considering all the troubles Philippine basketball is in right now.

Also elected were Nic Jorge of the Small Basketeers of the Philippines, senior vice president; Chino Trinidad of PBL, VP for menís basketball; Pedro Lee of Bicol, VP for womenís basketball; Fr. Victor Calvo of Letran, treasurer; and Fr. Max Rendon of Adamson, auditor.

As president, Martelino gets to name his secretary-general but has withheld his decision, saying he will have to consult the 15-member board of trustees since the position is a very sensitive one.

"Matrabaho yan. Thereís no use in appointing someone who will not do the work," said Martelino, who has seen the best and worst of RP basketball. He refused to mention any name being considered for the post.

The PBF is expected to get the recognition of the Philippine Olympic Committee under Jose "Peping" Cojuangco who witnessed the elections. But it will definitely undergo rough sailing as it tries to get the nod of FIBA, which continues to recognize the Basketball Association of the Philippines.

"We have no control over that (FIBA)," admitted Martelino. "All we can do is put our documents in order. And whatís important right now is the POC recognition. We have no timetable on that (FIBA nod) but we will try to get it as fast as we can."

The BAP, headed by former senator and Cabinet secretary Jose Lina, was expelled from the POC last June 30 for its supposed failure to honor an agreement with the POC and the other basketball stakeholders in the formation of the RP team to various international tournaments.

The BAP expulsion led to a FIBA suspension on the Philippines. In a letter to the POC, FIBA secretary-general Patrick Baumann said the suspension will only be lifted if the POC reconsiders its expulsion order against the BAP.

The Philippines was prevented from competing in the recent SEABA Championship in Malaysia and in the process lost its chance to see action in the FIBA Menís Championship in Qatar in September and the World Championship in Japan next year.

The POC, however, has refused to be swayed, saying the BAP expulsion was for the good of Philippine basketball. It has supported the formation of the PBF and is all set to inform the FIBA of the results of the elections.

The FIBA had told the POC that it "does not respect its decision" regarding the BAP expulsion and that it will continue to recognize the BAPís existence. In fact, Lina has been invited by the FIBA as one of the guests of honor in this weekís Stankovic Cup in China.

According to BAP vice president for the Visayas Filomeno "Boy" Codinera, the FIBA invited Lina for his status as BAP president. Lina is reportedly planning to leave for China today for the opening of the tournament.

Lina being invited to the Stankovic Cup only strengthens the fact that the FIBA will continue to recognize the BAP and its officers including former POC president Cristy Ramos Jalasco, daughter of former President Fidel Ramos. Jalasco was also invited to grace the Beijing tournament.

Codinera, now acting as the BAP spokesman, said the FIBA recognition is the one that matters and not the POCís.

"The international federations like the FIBA are just co-equal with the International Olympic Committee. They only fall under the jurisdiction of the IOC during events like the Olympics or Asian Games. Thatís why in cases or disputes like this, itís the international federation, and not the IOC, that has the final say," said Codinera.

The FIBA suspension on the Philippines has also placed the countryís title-retention bid in this yearís SEA Games under a dark cloud since it may not be allowed to field a team despite the fact that the Philippines is this yearís host.

Cojuangco, however, has expressed confidence that the Philippines will be allowed to field a team because otherwise, it will be a "black mark" for the hosts.

As it is, there are two Philippine teams ready to compete in any international competition - the one being supported by the BAP and coached by Boyzie Zamar, and the other being suppored by the POC and the PBF under coach Chot Reyes.

There are 15 trustees in the PBF. They are the PBL, UAAP, NCAA, Small Basketeers, BCAP, the representatives from Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Luzon, National Capital Region, Bicol, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Eastern Mindanao and an incorporator made up for senior basketball officials.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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