Sanction likely if Gilas opts out
Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - October 11, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - There is no categorical ruling on a FIBA sanction if a country declines to participate in any of the three Olympic qualifying tournaments set in different countries on July 5-10 next year to determine the last three entries for basketball at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

But a penalty seems imminent if a country withdraws from participation without a legitimate reason. FIBA communications director Patrick Koller told The Star yesterday in a message from the world governing body’s head office in Mies, Switzerland, that “should a national team fail to participate, FIBA may decide that disciplinary sanctions be applied on the relevant national federation or federations.”

The Philippines has been suspended by FIBA thrice previously.  In 1963, FIBA sanctioned the Philippines for disallowing Yugoslavia and other Communist countries to enter the country to participate in the World Cup. The Philippines refused to issue visas and FIBA took away the hosting rights from Manila as a consequence. Manila eventually hosted the World Cup in 1978. A leadership squabble involving the Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP), then recognized by FIBA as the national federation, led to another suspension in 2001. That was when Tiny Literal and Graham Lim dueled with Lito Puyat and Freddie Jalasco for authority over the BAP. In 2005, the Philippines was slapped another suspension, this time when the POC stripped the BAP of recognition as an NSA because of serious lapses in leadership and governance. The suspension stretched until 2007 when the SBP was created to become the new national federation.

SBP vice chairman Ricky Vargas said he is not aware of the possibility of a sanction. SBP executive director Sonny Barrios mentioned that a meeting with SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan and Vargas will be scheduled to decide on the issues of participating in and/or hosting the Olympic qualifier where Gilas may play in. Barrios earlier said nothing is final on both matters as discussions are still “up in the air.”

Participating in the Olympic qualifier will mean reforming the Gilas squad. The competition in the Olympic qualifier will be tougher than at the recent FIBA Asia Championships in Changsha as the allocation for slots is broken down into five from Europe, three from the Americas, three from Asia, three from Africa, one from Oceania and three hosts to be determined through a bidding process. The minimum bid to host an Olympic qualifying tournament is 1.75 Million Euros or the equivalent of P91.4 Million.

Countries that earned the right to play in the Olympic qualifiers are New Zealand from Oceania, Angola, Tunisia and Senegal from Africa, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico from the Americas, France, Serbia, Greece, Italy and the Czech Republic from Europe and the Philippines, Iran and Japan from Asia.

After the host countries are selected, a draw will be conducted by FIBA on Nov. 24 to determine the six nations in each of the three Olympic qualifying tournaments. The draw will consider geographical and quality principles in order to balance the groups. For instance, as there are five countries from Europe, they will not be all in one group. The three Asian countries will be spread out one in each tournament to avoid clustering the representation of the region in a single group.

If, for instance, the Philippines hosts a qualifying tournament, the next placed country at the recent FIBA Asia Championships will be awarded a playing slot – in which case, fifth placer Lebanon will move up. There is speculation that Canada, Mexico, Italy, Turkey and Russia may bid to host.  FIBA said hosts may be selected from the 15 countries that earned the right to play in the Olympic qualifiers or from countries that played in a continental or regional championships without qualifying.

Turkey and Russia failed to make it to the top seven at the recent FIBA EuroBasket and were not awarded slots to the Olympic qualifiers. Finalists Spain and Lithuania booked outright tickets to Rio by virtue of their 1-2 finish and the next five placers were awarded slots for the Olympic qualifiers. Turkey wound up No. 14 and Russia, No. 17 in the Europe championships. If they bid to host and are picked, both countries get a chance to play in the Olympic qualifiers.

The deadline to confirm participation and express intent to host an Olympic qualifier is Monday, Oct. 19, said Koller. “Everybody hopes to see the Philippines play at the Olympic qualifying tournament,” he added. “The objective of participating in any FIBA continental championship (as in the recent FIBA Asia Championships in Changsha) is clearly laid-out before taking part in these competitions. All teams aim to win the continental title and qualify, directly or indirectly, to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. FIBA, therefore, expects all teams which have qualified either directly to the 2016 Rio Olympics or to the FIBA Olympic qualifying tournaments and FIBA Women’s Olympic qualifying tournament to attend these competitions of FIBA next year.”

Koller said if a country backs out from participating in an Olympic qualifying tournament, FIBA has the right to choose a replacement. He said there is no rule specifying that the next best non-qualified team in the continental championships will take over the slot. “As there is no rule that says ‘the next placed in the continental championships takes over,’ FIBA would decide on the team replacing the one not participating,” noted Koller.

 

ACIRC ASIA CHAMPIONSHIPS BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES COUNTRIES FIBA OLYMPIC PHILIPPINES QUALIFYING THREE TURKEY AND RUSSIA WORLD CUP
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