OCTOBER 10, 2006
(STAR) By Gerry Carpio - Former Senator Joey Lina yesterday announced his resignation as president of the Basketball Association of the Philippines in a move that could end the longest feud to hit Philippine basketball and ensure the countryís immediate return to international cage competition.

In a press conference at the Manila Hotel, Lina made available to media a copy of his resignation letter to the BAP board of directors Sunday. A copy was furnished International Basketball Federation (FIBA) secretary general Patrick Baumann and Manuel V. Pangilinan, head of the three-man panel that formed the constitution and by-laws of the new cage body, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).

"I have exhausted all possible ways and means to unify RP basketball but our efforts are not enough to convince the Philippine Olympic Committee," said Lina.

Linaís resignation is expected to end BAPís long-running confrontation with the POC, which had expelled the BAP and has played a direct role on how the SBP should be formed before it could confer its recognition.

His move was brought about by the hard-line decision of POC president Jose "Peping" Cojuangco who wanted "in no unmistakable terms" the exclusion of any BAP official from the unity ticket that will be voted upon by acclimation during the unity congress of the SBP on Oct. 20.

The list of officers is the final requirement the SBP has to fill to finally submit its application for membership in the POC and gain recognition as new member of FIBA, where the BAP remains as member with inactive status.

The only official acceptable to the POC so far is Pangilinan, who is in the unity ticket as chairman. He was also tapped to serve as president but the BAP indicated in its meeting with Pangilinan Friday that it was nominating Lina for president. Pangilinan said he would refer the matter to the POC.

"According to Mr. Pangilinan, the POC has declared that the SBP will not be accepted by the POC if certain personalities in the BAP, including myself, are in the SBP unity ticket or common slate," the letter said.

Although the exclusion of a BAP official in the common ticket would go against the agreement ó fair representation by both the BP and BAP in the new cage body ó Lina said the goal of seeking recognition in FIBA and ending the long-running feud in Philippine basketball is far more important than the objective of fighting for the rights of the 70-year-old BAP.

"This is no longer a unity ticket and the congress may not really be a unity congress without the participation of the BAP," said Lina. "The BAP objects POCís undue interference in SBPĎs decision to choose its officers, but since the lifting of the FIBA suspension is primordial for the sake of the country, then we subordinate our BAP and SBP prerogative to comply with POCís desire," he said.

Lina was elected BAP president two years ago at the height of a controversy that plunged Philippine basketball into a crisis that saw the Philippines suspended as country affiliate of the FIBA. The suspension prevented the country from hosting basketball competitions in the 2005 SEA Games and competing in FIBA-sanctioned international tournaments.

Lina will convene the BAP General Assembly tomorrow to announce his resignation and call for the election of a new president.

Although the BAP may still be represented in the panel, the BAP may no longer find the need to nominate any of its officials for president of the SBP because of the objection raised by the POC.

Lina referred to his move as a "Solomonic" decision, drawing from a biblical passage.

He said he had always fought for unity and for the legitimacy of the BAP as a basketball association after the BAP was dropped from the roster of POC members. "I have always fought for the BAP, but if we canít compete in international competitions, whatís the use," he said. "A practical problem calls for a practical solution. We have shown to everyone that we have done our part."

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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