Very shameful PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 04 July 2018 15:08

LOOKING IN

BY ROD BALBON

The Gilas Pilipinas national team members should have joined the Mix Martial Arts (MMA) competition rather than playing basketball. What they’ve displayed the other night playing against the national team of Australia can only be described as very shameful. Where was their Filipino spirit of hospitality and sportsmanship? They threw them all out of the window and are now portrayed by us and the thousands of televiewers abroad as fighting barbarians and worst, uncivilized villains and not basket players.

At first, it was the arrogant Australian players who committed a very atrocious act when in the afternoon, between 2:30 to 4:30 pm, prior to game time, while doing their shoot around in a closed door practice, they forcibly tampered and removed the stickers of the game sponsors from the hardcourt of the Philippine Arena without first conferring with world’s basketball governing body, FIBA, and the Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas (SBP).

Since it was a closed-door practice, nobody from the FIBA or the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) was present to prevent the removal of the stickers that permanently damaged the hardcourt.

When confronted why they committed such act, the Australian team gave organizers a very lame answer. They reasoned out that the slickers made the hardcourt very slippery and they were just concerned with the safety of their players. While they may have the right to complain, they certainly don’t have the right to remove the stickers as the stickering of the floor has been approved by the FIBA branding manager who was present during the placement of the stickers. According to local organizers, the removal of the stickers would give rise to possible filing of a criminal action of malicious damage to property through premeditation and in conspiracy with each other by the owner and operator of the Philippine Arena—the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC). The representatives of the Australians admitted their fault and deeply apologized for the incident. Despite this, the local organizers urged the FIBA to act decisively on the incident for fear of “turning this into an international incident” and to appease the owner of the arena from filing the action.

Thus, the onus of explaining this unsavory incident lies on the shoulders of the Australians which will be decided upon by the FIBA.

But the host Gilas Pilipinas displayed a more despicable and shameful act when they played rough against the slick and well-prepared Australian team. By the third quarter, the latter was already leading GILAS by forty one (41) points when hell broke loose. Gilas player, Pogoy, was hit by a wayward elbow that sent him down, eliciting a heated response from his team mates who started punching the Australian players. It was a melee which was only watched by the local organizers, FIBA officials and security officials but nobody among them came in and pacified to stop the skirmish. Even the Philippine coach, Chot Reyes, was silent and merely watched the spectacle from the sidelines. He didn’t assert his authority by stopping his players from further fighting and inflicting harm to the visiting Aussies. As coach, his duty is not merely to instruct and devise plays but also the responsibility to see to it that his players play with the rules of the game and exercised outmost temperance, knowing that they were playing a championship elimination round against a team watched by thousands of fans and supporters here and abroad. He should be the first to intervene and prevent this incident from happening. When his players started playing rough by reason of the wide margin they couldn’t erase, Chot Reyes should have substituted them with players having cooler heads to finish the game. But no, he let them continue playing and in the end they brought us shame and international disgrace.

We could have understood their rough plays if the score was tied or the lead margin is merely one or two points. But the Aussie lead was forty one (41) points and the widely and highly-hyped Gilas was clearly playing frustrated and appeared highly embarrassed that they were being toyed by the Aussies who, were days ago were defeated by the Japanese national team that the Gilas defeated months ago.

The Aussies have committed an uncalled and arrogant act of removing the stickers in the hardcourt but Gilas has committed a far graver act that will result to severe sanction or penalty which will greatly affect basketball in the country, to include the commercial PBA League. Remember Kiefer Ravena? He was found to have taken an energy drink that contained substances banned by the FIBA which he didn’t know. But the penalty imposed him was eighteen (18) months suspension from playing professional basketball. Now, expect the penalty to be imposed by the FIBA, with regard to this untoward incident, to be stiffer. The nine (9) ejected players and our country’s membership with the FIBA is at stake all through the courtesy of these stupid players who should have been playing in the hexagonal or square ring rather than playing in the hardcourt.