Archivist Luis Gonzalez displays a painting in the FIBA collection.

Pinoy art in FIBA treasure trove
Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - December 13, 2017 - 4:00pm

GENEVA – There are Filipino works of art safely tucked in the inner sanctum of FIBA’s House of Basketball in Mies, a Swiss town near here, and archivist Luis Gonzalez uncovered a prized painting by Manny Garibay during the Philippine delegation’s visit for the awarding of the hosting rights to the 2023 FIBA World Cup last weekend.

Gonzalez, 41, has worked with FIBA as the International Basketball Foundation’s historical collections associate the past five years. He is in charge of preserving the memorabilia, collectibles, books, publications and archives that comprise FIBA’s treasure trove. FIBA used to maintain a museum in Madrid but when the House of Basketball was completed in 2013, Gonzalez moved the prized pieces over. Gonzalez, who is Mexican, also manages the Pedro Ferrandiz Library, the 1,000-square meter exhibition and venue center, known as the Naismith Arena, the Hall of Fame display, the World Cup and Olympic collection, the equipment and venue center and an interactive section all on the ground floor of the FIBA building.

There are more than 7,000 books and 3,000 magazines in over 20 languages in the library named after the fabled Spanish coach Ferrandiz who piloted Real Madrid to a 437-90 record, 12 national titles and four European championships. Among the items on display are a 1915 Spalding leather basketball, shoes and jerseys from the 1930s and a Mabuhay banner commemorating the 1978 World Cup in Manila. A photograph of the only Filipino in the FIBA Hall of Fame, the late coach Chito Calvo, is on the same wall of honor as James Naismith, David Stern and Borislav Stankovic. Calvo, who died in 1977 at the age of 74, coached the Philippine team to fifth place at the inaugural Olympic basketball competition in 1936. It remains the highest finish ever by an Asian team in Olympic hoops.

Gonzalez pulled out the Garibay painting to show the Filipino visitors. FIBA conducted an art contest in Madrid in 2000 and Garibay took second place in the painting category with “One On One.” In the same competition, Filipino artist Ramon Orlina won the grand prize in the sculpture category.

Last June, FIBA held a world-wide photography contest. Fernandez said 60 percent of the 800 entries were from Filipinos who bagged three of the top 10 prizes. The highest Filipino placer was runner-up Emerson Catindoy who captioned his black-and-white photograph of a one-legged boy in a wheelchair enjoying a game with a friend “Physical disability is no hindrance to have a happy, normal life … They need no pity and instead, they give us bright hope and inspiration by showing they’re productive and live an active life despite their condition” and won $2,000. The fourth placer was another Filipino Joel Forte with a photograph of six wheelchair basketball players entitled “Basketball On Wheels” and earned $150. The ninth place photograph by Melfort shows six Filipinos playing outdoors under the rain in hip-high floodwaters with the caption “For the love of the game, despite the odds” and also earned $150. 

The best 30 photographs were exhibited at the Naismith Arena from June 30 to Oct. 30 this year. Gonzalez said he will conduct another photography contest next year. The Philippine delegation donated several books on Philippine basketball to the Ferrandiz library through Gonzalez who welcomed the contribution.

It was mentioned that perhaps, FIBA could consider another Filipino standout to be honored in the Hall of Fame. The early candidate would be the late Caloy Loyzaga who was the second leading scorer at the 1954 Rio de Janeiro World Cup where the Philippines took third place, the highest finish ever by an Asian country in the quadrennial event.

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