Another ‘clamor for change’

FEEL THE GAME - Bobby Motus (The Freeman) - September 13, 2019 - 12:00am

In life, we dream of success and depending on our resolve and maybe luck, there’s a very strong chance that we’ll achieve what we’re aiming for. Yet, fate can be mischievous that we can’t always have what we want. Add the fact that sometimes we take things for granted and only take action when lightning is about to strike. Kaboom!  Pusoy.

The Spain 2014 FIBA World Cup run was for the books as it was the first time in 40 years that Gilas Pilipinas appeared and won a game in a Basketball World Cup. Yes, we’ve only won 1 game then but the whole world was impressed when we took Croatia to overtime, lost respectably to Greece then rattled Argentina and Puerto Rico, with average 4-game losing margin of only 5.3 points. 

Statistics from FIBA showed that the 2019 Gilas had regressed compared to the 2014 Gilas.  This time, clobbering is an understatement as we lost by an average margin of 29.4 points.  There were four other teams that had a fruitless campaign in China but we finished last because of our total number of points lost was 147 compared to Japan (-130), Senegal (-102) and Ivory Coast (-74). 

Gilas limited the opposition in 2014 to an average of 80.8 points, meaning there was defensive pressure. Coupled with mediocre offense, this time we allowed opponents to score almost 100 points per game at 99.8 points.  In the assist-to-turnover ratio, the other teams in our bracket had fluid ball movement, while we had more turnovers per game at 15 compared to assists at 13.2.

Everything was going in the right direction after the 2014 Spain Worlds and then the brawl with Australia happened.  Things went crazy in the middle of the tournament that Yeng Guiao inherited a non-functional team that needs to finish what was started.  All things considered, he did well and it resulted to the participation of the 2019 Worlds.

Because we will be hosting the 2023 FIBA World Cup, we are already assured of a spot.  But this basketball infatuated republic will be clamoring for change and we cannot blame the fans if they can’t fully grasp the complexities of forming a competitive national team.  Thus the bashing.

Complicated indeed is the situation because the country’s best players are playing professionally in the PBA.  The league generates money thru their teams and the more wins they make, the more popular and more sales they generate for their products.  Getting the best players from these teams won’t be sitting well with team owners.   Basketball is also a business and business means money.

A major benefactor to the national team owns three teams in the PBA.  Another corporate sponsor also has three teams in the league.   This is already half of the total number of company-branded teams playing in the PBA.  Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, the national sporting association in charge of the country’s basketball program, is headed by someone who acts as team governor of one of the PBA teams.  An executive director of the SBP was once a PBA commissioner.

Ergo, no matter how things get sugar-coated, the fate of the national basketball team is wholly dependent on the PBA, not the SBP.   It’s a long shot but it would be a good idea to revive the program of the Ron Jacobs-led Northern Consolidated Cement team of the early 1980s, formed with players not connected to any of the PBA teams.

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