MANILA, March 28, 2006 (MALAYA) FINALLY breaking their silence, four stakeholders yesterday lambasted Basketball Association of the Philippines president Joey Lina, saying his actuations may delay and ultimately deny the country’s re-entry into the international basketball arena.

Lina had claimed the four stakeholders–PBA, PBL, UAAP and NCAA–never listened to his concerns in their meetings and had threatened to bring the issue to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Geneva, Switzerland.

Lina, also on the stakeholders, had maintained the easiest way for the Philippines to be re-admitted into the fold of the International Basketball Association, or FIBA, is for the POC to re-admit the BAP.

Pro league commissioner Noli Eala, however, denied Lina’s claim, saying: "It is not true that we never listened to Joey Lina’s concerns and suggestions. It’s just that the more the move back towards the BAP was being considered, the less it made sense given the extremely negative baggage the group has had the past several years. "Besides, putting up a new and truly representative NSA for basketball was what the MOU (between the POC and FIBA) called for, so we merely followed its dictates to the letter."

Lina had initially joined the stakeholders’ meetings but stopped doing so when it became clear the majority of the group had reconsidered their earlier plan to re-constitute the BAP. Even without Lina, the group drafted and submitted a new constitution and by-laws to the POC and also formed Pilipinas Basketball whose application was also approved by the POC.

Junjun Capistrano of the UAAP admitted they considered revamping the BAP but stressed this was merely discussed as one of the options "and not the only path we were committed to undertaking as we work towards returning to the fold of the FIBA."

The BAP was expelled by the POC last year after BAP officials reneged on an agreement for the formation of national teams to international tournaments. In response, the FIBA suspended the Philippines from participating in international tournaments.

The POC later signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the FIBA giving the local Olympic body until March 31 this year to come up with a solution to the basketball crisis. The MOU specifically identified the PBA, PBL, UAAP, NCAA and Lina as the stakeholders.

For his part, Fr. Vic Calvo of the NCAA said: "We talked about it since Joey Lina promised a thorough revamp and restructuring of the BAP but he never even worked towards this. It was possible for us to keep the shell of the old BAP and just populate it with new people representing all the stakeholders but this was not really what the MOU called for."

The stakeholders said to stick with the BAP plan was a violation of the MOU, adding this realization came about at the same time Lina stopped attending the meetings when it became evident he would be unable to meet his objective of getting the BAP re-admitted into the POC.

Group spokesman Chino Trinidad, the commissioner of the PBL, said once the constitution and by-laws drafted by the group would be approved by the FIBA, they will invite other groups to join them.

"The goal of the new NSA is to become a truly democratic and working body with one goal in mind–to enable the country to regain its lofty international standing in the sport we all love," Trinidad said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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