The SBP has sent an inquiry to FIBA Asia on whether the rule on the passport of a foreign-born player will be applied for the coming Champions Cup.
FIBA Asia FB Page
SBP awaits FIBA reply
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - June 20, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — There is an invitation for the Philippines to join the FIBA Asia Champions Cup on Sept. 24-29 but the SBP hasn’t been able to confirm its participation, pending an inquiry sent to FIBA regarding the qualification of players.

The Champions Cup was inaugurated in 1981 and is now of its 28th staging. Starting in 1995, the competition became a yearly event except in 2014 and 2015 when it wasn’t held. The Philippines has hosted the tournament thrice – in 1996, 2005 and 2011 – and won four titles in 1984 (Northern Cement in Ipoh), 1988 (Swift in Jakarta), 1995 (Andok’s in Kuala Lumpur) and 1996 (Hapee Toothpaste in Manila).

The Philippines sat out four straight Champions Cup from 2012 to 2017 then rejoined with the PBA club Meralco in 2018. The Bolts made it to the semifinals and finished fourth despite the disqualification of Fil-Ams Chris Newsome and Cliff Hodge because their Philippine passports were issued after they turned 16. The tournament allows each team to play two imports and the other players must show passports of the countries they represent. To be eligible, a player born outside of the country he is representing must show a passport issued before he turned 16. A naturalized player is considered an import and falls within the two-import restriction.

The SBP has sent an inquiry to FIBA Asia on whether the rule on the passport of a foreign-born player will be applied for the coming Champions Cup. FIBA Asia has reportedly forwarded the inquiry to FIBA head office for clarification. 

The FIBA Asia Champions Cup brings together the top eight club titleholders in the continent. Already qualified for this year’s affair are Ulsan Hyundai Mobis Phoebus of Korea, Fubon Braves of Chinese Taipei, Guangdong Southern Tigers of China, Alvark Tokyo of Japan, Chemidu of Iran and Al Riyadi of Lebanon. While the dates are set for the competition, there is still no confirmed site. The expectation is the PBA Commissioner’s Cup champion will represent the Philippines in the tournament. The Commissioner’s Cup will end on Aug. 21 at the latest, assuming every playoff series goes the distance, including the best-of-7 finals.

The difficulty is if FIBA insists on the passport qualification, it will severely cripple the lineup of whichever PBA team represents the country. Meralco, for instance, was handicapped by the rule last year. The SBP has suggested for the Champions Cup to follow the passport requirement in the FIBA 3x3 competitions where the only qualification is a live passport regardless of place of birth or at what age it was issued. 

“It’s a club competition and not a national team competition,” an SBP source said. “Why not follow the eligibility rules of the FIBA 3x3 since this isn’t a tournament involving national teams? Perhaps, it’s time to revisit the eligibility qualifications for the purpose of standardizing requirements in every FIBA competition.”

While the SBP awaits a reply from FIBA, the PBA has agreed to participate in the Terrific 12 tournament in Macau on Sept. 17-22. Three PBA clubs have been invited to join the 12-team conclave organized by East Asia Super League CEO Matt Beyer and CFO Henry Kerins. Teams from China, Korea, Japan and Chinese-Taipei will also compete for the $150,000 first prize. The Terrific 12 tournament allows each team to enlist two imports and only passports are required of foreign-born players for eligibility purposes.

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