FIBA affirms suspension
- Joaquin M. Henson () - July 14, 2001 - 12:00am
Despite pressure from the Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC), the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) affirmed its suspension on the Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) — wracked by a leadership crisis — and may arbitrate the dispute stemming from two claims to the presidency.

But International Olympic Committee (IOC) representative to the Philippines Frank Elizalde said the FIBA will step in as arbitrator only if the rivaling parties agree to elevate the case. If both Gonzalo Puyat and Quinteliano Literal — claimants to the BAP presidency — refuse to seek FIBA arbitration, the suspension will remain indefinitely.

Elizalde left Manila for Moscow last Tuesday to attend the IOC General Assembly meeting that will decide the 2008 host nation and elect the new IOC President to succeed Juan Antonio Samaranch. FIBA Secretary-General Borislav Stankovic and his deputy Patrick Baumann, who are also in Moscow, will likely consult Elizalde on how to resolve the BAP mess.

In an overseas phonecall, FIBA Administrative Officer Genevieve Hartmann said the other day unless the BAP problem is resolved internally, the suspension continues. She noted that the issue of arbitration will be taken up when Stankovic returns to FIBA headquarters in Munich late this month.

Since the deadline to submit the national team lineup for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games is July 15, a proposal was made to designate Philippine Long Distance Tel. Co. Chairman Manuel Pangilinan as BAP Officer in Charge on an interim basis — if only for FIBA to lift its suspension.

Literal said he is agreeable to sign a Memorandum of Agreement installing Pangilinan on condition a date is set for BAP elections, recognizing the holdover National Board, after or even before the SEA Games in September. He said the Memorandum should be signed by Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Celso Dayrit, Pangilinan, Puyat and himself. Puyat has expressed support for Pangilinan.

Literal said he was assured by SEA Games organizers that the deadline to submit the lineup will be extended to Aug. 15 or 20, if necessary, to accommodate the Philippines.

Last June 14, POC Secretary-General Romeo Ribano sent a letter to Stankovic appealing for an early resolution of the BAP problem.

"It is to the best interest of basketball in the Philippines and the stability of the POC and the Olympic movement in this country that this conflict within the BAP be resolved already," said Ribano. "The POC has exercised extra diligence in giving both sides due process. But one group refuses to accept the authority of the POC by going to court while they continue to undermine the integrity of the POC and its leadership. The POC is ready to endorse a competitive team selected by the BAP whose leadership is recognized by us. All the pro leagues as well as the major school leagues in the Philippines recognize the authority of the POC and the BAP headed by Messrs. Pangilinan and Puyat."

ABC President Carl Men Ky Ching of Hong Kong, however, wrote a conflicting letter to Stankovic last June 26.

"For what we understand, there are never two National Federations of the Philippines," said Ching. "So far, the ABC only received information and reports from the BAP that is headed by Quinteliano Literal and Graham Lim. The other party has never contacted our ABC. The Philippines court on June 20, 2001, has stated that the election on June 7 (installing Puyat as President) is illegal. Gayrika Perusinghe, the legal counsel of the ABC, had witnessed the whole election on June 20, 2001 (installing Literal as President). Therefore, the elected BAP officers which are officially ordered by the Philippine court on June 20, 2001, should be recognized."

A source said what triggered the BAP suspension was the Literal group’s defiance of POC authority and its move to seek redress from the courts — tantamount to government intervention which is abhorred by the IOC.

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