RP stint in SEABA caging uncertain
- Abac Cordero () - July 4, 2005 - 12:00am
The Philippine participation in the SEABA Championship starting tomorrow in Kuala Lumpur is still hanging in the air.

During a scheduled meeting the other day in the Malaysian capital, FIBA-Asia officials and SEABA organizers reportedly withheld any decision on whether the Philippines will still be allowed to field a team in the six-day tournament.

As it is, there are two teams raring to represent the Philippines in the event, which serves as qualifying for the tougher FIBA Men’s Championship (formerly ABC) in Doha, Qatar in September.

There’s a team from the Basketball Association of the Philippines and another from the Philippine Basketball Federation, Inc. The BAP team reportedly left for KL yesterday while the PBFI squad is ready to take the three-hour flight to Malaysia anytime.

The FIBA-Asia and SEABA officials are torn between the two RP teams considering that the BAP was recently expelled from the Philippine Olympic Committee but is still being recognized by FIBA.

The PBFI squad, on the other hand, enjoys the full support of the POC, the Philippine Sports Commission (the government’s funding arm in sports) and the major stakeholders in Philippine basketball.

The decision is expected to come out today or tomorrow and it’s possible that the Philippines will not be allowed to play — and in the process give up the chance to qualify for the FIBA Men’s Championship in Qatar.

"There are only three scenarios. The first is that the BAP team will be allowed to play, the second is that it’s the PBFI that will represent the Philippines and third, we won’t be allowed to participate," said a POC media officer.

"To avoid further dispute from the BAP or the PBFI, the SEABA might just decide that the Philippines will be prevented from competing this year. And if that happens, we’re automatically out of the Doha tournamernt," he added.

"We have to swallow the bitter pill if that’s the decision. Forget about the SEABA and the ABC in Doha and just look forward to the SEA Games. But the latest communication we got is that we’re out of the SEABA tournament."

The BAP was represented in the meeting by its president Joey Lina and secretary-general Graham Lim, who maintained that despite their expulsion from the POC, they continue to enjoy the FIBA recognition.

They also maintained that despite the expulsion, the BAP is still recognized by the government through the Philippine Sports Commission. But the PSC the other day announced that it has withdrawn its recognition of the BAP, too.

The POC, through its president Jose "Peping" Cojuangco, wrote SEABA organizers the other day informing them that the BAP has been expelled and therefore has lost the personality to represent the country in FIBA events.

The POC also sought a special permission from the SEABA to allow the PBFI team to play without the FIBA recognition but under the auspices of the Olympic body.

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