SBP heaves sigh of relief, but tough questions loom over Gilas verdict
From left: Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas' legal counsel Aga Francisco, executive director Sonny Barriors, president Al Panlilio, and Gilas team manager and deputy executive director Butch Antonio during the a press briefing on the FIBA sanctions on the July 2 brawl, Thursday at the PLDT headquarters in Makati City.
PhilStar.com Photo/Denison Rey A. Dalupang

SBP heaves sigh of relief, but tough questions loom over Gilas verdict

Denison Rey A. Dalupang (Philstar.com) - July 19, 2018 - 7:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — For 40 minutes, Al Panlilio was visibly relaxed. He was guarded though, as members of the Philippine press unloaded a barrage of questions regarding the FIBA decision on the July 2 incident that was made official on Thursday afternoon.

But the most telling bit was that he was able to crack a joke and two.

“Maybe we could host it sa Meralco Gym,” in response to where the closed-door game against Qatar should be held.

“We’re sending Butch (Antonio) to a coaching clinic,” when asked about who steps in behalf of Chot Reyes in Gilas upcoming game in the FIBA Wold Cup Asian Qualifiers second round.

“May gusto pa ba kayong isama?” he retorted when reporters Allein Maliksi’s absence from the pool of players facing supsensions.

And who could blame him? Panlilio, the president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas — the country’s basketball federation — can now let out a sigh of relief as the Mies-based global body said its suspension of 10 players, including tactician Chot Reyes and deputy Jong Uichico, is limited to just the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers.

The revelation allays fears that the sanctions could trickle down to the Philippine Basketball Association and other FIBA-sanctioned events similar to the effect of the punishment dealt against superstar rookie and Gilas Pilipinas guard Kiefer Ravena, who was tested positive for a banned substance.

“Of course the incident it was a disappointment,” Panlilio told the press during a briefing at the PLDT headquareters in Makati City. “We’ve offered our apologies. In a way, I think, honestly, FIBA was quite fair with the process. Honestly it could’ve been much worse.”

And by worse, Panlilio was also alluding to the fracas costing the SBP and the Philippines its campaign in the 2019 basketball World Cup and the collaborative hosting of the global meet in 2023.

“It’s not mentioned,” Panlilio said of the hosting and the national team’s bid in the prestigious contest.

“And that’s good. I mean, if I say it could’ve been worse, those things might have been affected. It’s very clear now that the focus of the santcions are on all of the FIBA basketball World Cup Asian Qualifier Games and again, it could’ve been worse,” he noted.

The decision, which spans 13 pages, was received by the SBP on Wednesday, according to Panlilio. He revealed that FIBA afforded them some elbow room to huddle with the personalities covered by the sanctions and review the report before the body made the announcement official on Thursday.

The sanctions were made official 9 a.m. Swiss time, which is 3 p.m. in Manila.

“[Among the original sanctions were] three road games will be played in closed doors. But what they did was at least the first game will be behind closed doors. And that’s going to be the Qatar game in September,” Panlilio shared.

However, the soft-spoken executive said that they are still facets of the report they want to have elucidated.

“There are certain facts that we want to clarify further to make sure we’re on the same page with FIBA,” he said. “‘Cause we did have our position paper submitted last July 13. We just want to make sure that they consider those points. From there, I guess we’ll assess [if we could formally file an] appeal.”

These clarifications include the logistics of the Gilas home game against the Qataris on September 17, the upholding of supensions which vary from player to player, and who steps up for Reyes and Uichico.

And as if that’s not filling the hands of SBP, they still have to worry about padding the voids as the regional qualifiers go on.

“The SBP accepts the disciplinary panel’s decision and extends its appreciation to the panel for its work … The executive committee of SBP will be convened soon to determine if it could avail of itself the appeal procedure provided under the decision,” he said.

"You always  think of the worst case (scenario) diba. But I don’t think we thought of the ban. There were concerns over the 2023 hosting, for sure; there was concern on the potential suspension of the federation for a period, but those are the worse scenarios," Panlilio noted.  "As Iv’e said, these sanctions are heavy, forceful ones from FIBA, but it could’ve been worse."

2019 FIBA WORLD CUP ASIAN QUALIFIERS BASKETBALL GILAS PILIPINAS GILAS-BOOMERS BRAWL
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