While the Azkals glow, SBP officials salivatePercy D. DellaSouthpawFirst Posted 02:40:38 19/02/2011
While the popular Azkals continue to excite sports fans into a new love affair with football, the other national team is salivating on cue like Pavlov’s dog.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is busy preparing a team to the Southeast Asian Games late this year. The SBP—oversha-dowed of late by the Azkals and the Philippine Football Federation—is chomping at the bit to retain the SEA Games basketball title, the last remnant of the Philippines’ faded cage glory in Asia.
Except in 1989 in Kuala Lumpur where overconfidence and the host Malaysians did us in, we have won this crown—with the brain half cocked and one hand tied behind the back—since 1977.
The moneyed-but-ill-starred SBP has been devoid of success in international competitions since business tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan took the helm.
So it better bring home the gold from the SEA Games, or incur the wrath of basketball’s constituency.
Thus, Pangilinan’s national sport association is currently on its own orbit, while culling the country for national collegiate standouts.
College kids, with a sprinkling of one or two members of MVP’s high-maintenance Smart Gilas team, will form the squad to the November sportsfest. This is a new wrinkle but look who’s coaching—Norm Black, Ateneo’s UAAP three-peat mentor.
In the past, less heralded players and coaches, mostly from the Philippine Basketball League, have gotten the job done.
So is there overkill in the selection of this year’s team to a competition called “an over glamorized inter-barrio tournament” by the irreverent Recah Trinidad?
Are we being left to wonder that the SBP’s SEA Games team is over hyped for an easy assignment, much like we were before the Azkals beat the visiting Mongolian national team?
Of course not, SBP Executive Director Noli Eala told me last week.
He said that for one, Indonesia, this year’s SEA Games host, and runner-up to the PH team when basketball was last played in Nakhon Ratchasima in 2007, is rebuilding its basketball team.
It would be no surprise if foreign-born and naturalized Indons don their national colors in Bandung in November, he said.
Eala also said with the birth of the professional Asean Basketball League, Southeast Asian basketball has improved tremendously. Asean teams are now exposed to a better brand of basketball, he added.
You cannot take the competition for granted anymore, says Eala. And to make the tournament more exciting, the ABL has indicated that it is willing to “skirt its schedule” to allow players to take part in the SEA Games, according to Eala.
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Scoop, under its president Eddie Alinea, plans an awards night in May to honor the country’s top 100 athletes of the last 100 years. A group of editors, columnists and the sports group’s past presidents is supposed to choose the athlete of the century from among the 100.
The list is a veritable who’s who of Philippine sports figures. Most prominent name on the list—boxing’s pound-for-pound king, Manny Pacquiao, of course.
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Mangaldan in Pangasinan holds a 72-kilometer bikefest for cyclists 40 years and above and a 125-kilometer road race with amateur and professional riders on Feb. 27.
The event, a project of Mayor Herminio A. Romero, will usher in the town’s fiesta.Source: http://www.inquirer.net/sports/articles ... ivate.html