FEBRUARY 22, 2007
(STAR) By Nelson Beltran - The crisis is over.

After 18 months of suspension, the Philippines is again allowed to compete in international play after being reinstated into the roster of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) yesterday.

BAP-Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Manny Pangilinan made the announcement in a press conference after receiving an official communication from FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann.

"It is my pleasure to confirm to you that the Tokyo Agreement has now been complied with and, as a consequence, the suspension of the Philippines is lifted," said Baumann in his letter.

"At the same time, the BAP-Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas Inc. replaces the Basketball Association of the Philippines as a duly affiliated member of FIBA taking over all of its rights and obligations," Baumann also stated.

Panglinan said: "I receive the letter with relief. Now we can start our work in earnest. The challenge is for the Philippine basketball community as a whole – unified, if you please – to fulfill its responsibilities to the country and to FIBA, by truly uniting to ensure that Philippine basketball is managed professionally and successfully."

"Getting the lifting of the suspension is the easiest part. The hard part is the work to be done," Pangilinan also said, pointing out that their dream now is to bring the Philippines back in the Olympics, hopefully in Beijing next year.

The development paves the way for the Philippines’ return to international competition, starting with the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (SEABA) championship in May. Pangilinan still hopes to get the hosting of that event from Bangkok to Manila.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, PBA chair Ricky Vargas, commissioner Noli Eala, Pilipinas Basketball president Junjun Capistrano and Philippine Olympic Committee spokesman Joey Romasanta also attended the press conference.

"The POC as well as all Philippine basketball fans are sincerely grateful to basketball stakeholders who all worked hard to put us back in basketball map again," said Romasanta, adding BAP-SBP has automatically become a regular member of the POC.

Last Friday, the POC gave BAP-SBP conditional accreditation pending recognition of the FIBA.

"Sana huwag na itong mahaluan ng gulo. Let’s give SBP a chance," Estrada appealed.

Vargas said the group is holding a celebration of unity in the sport with a fun event Sunday at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium, featuring two exhibition games with the first pitting two teams of actors and the second pitting NCAA champ San Beda against UAAP titlist UST.

After that, the BAP-SBP board of trustees is holding a two-day planning session at Tagaytay Highlands.

The Philippines was suspended by FIBA on July 3, 2005 at the height of the turf war among cage leaders. Due to the suspension, the country missed the 2005 SEA Games and the 2006 Doha Asian Games, among others.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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