MANILA, AUGUST 22, 2006 (STAR) By Joaquin Henson - A showdown is in the offing between Pilipinas Basketball, backed by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) as a National Sports Association, and the Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) during the Federation Internationale de Basketball (FIBA) Central Board meeting this Sunday in Tokyo.

Officials of the opposing organizations were summoned by FIBA secretary-general Patrick Baumann to appear before the Central Board and explain their case in a 10-minute presentation. The POC and the BAP will be allowed two speakers each.

Baumann sent a letter to POC president Jose Cojuangco Jr. the other day inviting the official to fly to Japan, attend the Central Board meeting and the World Congress on Aug. 28-29 and watch the knockout quarterfinals of the World Championships in Saitama on Aug. 30. He said arrangements will be made for the officials to stay in the FIBA-accredited hotel.

Baumann also said he would provide a conference room for the rival officials to settle their differences and arrive at a solution to end the Philippines’ leadership crisis.

Although Pilipinas Basketball is not recognized by FIBA as a country affiliate, the POC-recognized NSA will be given the opportunity to air its side to the Central Board, FIBA’s highest executive body.

FIBA is expected to end the Philippines’ suspension from international competition at the World Congress but even if the ban is lifted, the problem of which NSA will accredit the national team remains unless the POC or the BAP backs down.

The POC expelled the BAP as an NSA last year, triggering the FIBA suspension because the international body continues to recognize the BAP as its country affiliate.

"FIBA is poised to lift the suspension," said Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) commissioner Noli Eala who is affiliated with Pilipinas Basketball. "But assuming the suspension is lifted, the question remains which national team will represent our country." The POC will not accredit a team endorsed by the BAP and FIBA will not recognize a team that is not endorsed by the BAP. So we’ll still be at a stalemate even if the suspension is lifted."

Eala said he suspects FIBA will force the Philippines to decide its own fate as it should have done in the first place.

"I always thought the problem was internal to the Philippines," said Eala. "I could never understand why FIBA stepped into a domestic problem. I think the Philippines should never have been suspended. Once FIBA lifts the suspension, it will deliver the message for the Philippines to solve the problem. It will be our shame if we are not able to settle the issue."

POC legal counsel Emigdio Tanjuatco said Pilipinas Basketball will be ready to make a power point presentation with film footage of action from its major stakeholders.

Expected to attend the meeting are POC first vice president and Rep. Monico Puentevella, Tanjuatco, lawyer Mon Malinao, PBA chairman Ricky Vargas and Eala. Puentevella, Tanjuatco and Malinao plan to leave Manila for Japan on Aug. 24. Vargas and Eala will join later.

The BAP will be represented in Japan by president Joey Lina and possibly, secretary-general Graham Lim.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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