FEBRUARY 7, 2007
(STAR) By Abac Cordero - The Philippine Olympic Committee will hold a special General Assembly on Feb. 16 and is expected to welcome the BAP-Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, Inc. as its newest member.

Joey Romasanta, the POC spokesman, was to receive the BAP-SBP application for membership last night. A 10-day notice will be observed before it is taken up by the General Assembly.

The BAP-SBP was unveiled the other day at the packed ballroom of Dusit Hotel. It marked the end of a long-drawn controversy and the start of a new dawn for Philippine basketball.

The BAP-SBP, with Rep. Luis Villafuerte as chairman and businessman Manny V. Pangilinan as president, needs the POC recognition before it applies for membership with the International Basketball Federation.

Once FIBA approves the application of the BAP-SBP, the suspension slapped on the Philippines by the world governing body in 2005, as a result of the controversy, will immediately be lifted.

Then the Philippines can re-enter the international arena. Among the tournaments it has missed while on suspension were the 2005 Manila SEA Games and 2006 Doha Asian Games.

Deputy POC secretary-general Mark Joseph said POC president Peping Cojuangco called for the special General Assembly at the latter’s Dasmariñas residence.

"The issue at hand will be the application for membership of the new NSA for basketball. It is expected that after the president’s report to the body, Mr. Pangilinan will be sworn in as a member of the POC," Joseph said.

Steve Hontiveros, the POC secretary-general, said he expects the "majority to vote for its (BAP-SBP) recognition."

This developed as several names have cropped up as candidates for the sensitive position of BAP-SBP executive director.

They are BAP-SBP members Bernie Atienza, Chino Trinidad, Fritz Gaston and Yayoy Alcoseba, former Philippine Basketball Association commissioner Jun Bernardino, Ateneo’s Ricky Palou and Romasanta.

Pangilinan, however, has hinted at the possibility of naming a non-Filipino as executive director. If this happens, it will only be on an interim basis, until the association holds its first regular election next year.

Meanwhile, 85 organizations from all over the country have been accepted as interim members of the BAP-SBP but the number could dwindle before the holding of the first BAP-SBP regular election of officers next year.

Former PBA chairman Ely Capacio has been tasked to lead the group that will check the validity of the organizations for their inclusion as regular members of the unified cage body.

"Today, everybody is accepted lock, stock and barrel. But there will be process where all groups will be tested based on certain parameters. The process goes all the way through 2008 when the general assembly will be held," said Capacio.

Validation of members is also in accordance with the Tokyo communiqué reached by the BAP and Pilipinas Basketball. BAP has 64 members and Pilipinas Basketball 20 in the unified body. Forty-three attended the Unity Congress Monday in Dusit Hotel.

To be included in BAP-SBP, a cage organization should have at least six teams playing a tournament for at least three months a year.

Pangilinan insisted he will serve the group only during the transition period and will step down to give way to whoever is elected as president in the first regular election.

The group calls the period from the Unity Congress to the 2008 general assembly as "the healing period."

Next to the formation of a competitive team that will vie for a slot in the Beijing Olympics, Pangilinan’s other immediate goal is to give more attention to countryside basketball.

"Its big consequence is that it may affect our recruitment program for the Ateneo and San Beda teams," said Pangilinan, the No. 1 supporter of the Blue Eagles and the Red Lions.

Among those likely to be given boost is the neglected annual National Inter-Collegiate Championship.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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