Sports Eye

Basketball is not our world sport

By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.

THE talk of the town these days in our country is about the FIBA U19 Basketball Championship and the coming World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight unification title bout between Philippine boxing icon Manny Pacquiao and the undefeated American Keith Thurman slated on July 21 (PH time).

Forget the Pacquiao-Thurman fight  first. There’s so much rude taunting, bickering and trash talking between them especially from Thurman. I guess it is a marketing gimmick to promote the fight via pay-per-view.

But the main issue today is the humiliating series of defeat our young cagers suffered in the FIBA U19 Basketball Championship being held in Greece. As of this writing (July 4), our contingent is winless after four games and was quickly booted out for the championship. Our young Gilas national quintet headed by seven-foot-two the lanky Kai Sotto and Urdaneta City son Dave Ildefonso, were overwhelmed by the host Greece in their first game, 89-65, then edged by Argentina in the second match, 77-72,  then walloped by Russia in the third, 92-64, and dumped by Serbia, 87-60 in the fourth. They’re scheduled to face Australia on July 5 in a no-bearing contest for them, while Australia is still in contention to enter the ‘magic 16’ for the next round.

Th series of defeat our team suffered proved once more that basketball, which Filipinos are crazy about, is not the competitive sport we can excel in in world competitions. This was already made clear in many international competitions in spite of big sponsorship money. Well, we might be a powerhouse in Asia in the league of China, South Korea, Iran and Lebanon but obviously not in world competitions.

The first and also the last time that Philippines performed creditably in world basketball competition was 65 years ago. Philippines landed third in the 1954 World Basketball Championship bannered by the legend Carlos Loyzaga held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In fact, Loyzaga was even selected as one of the members of the prestigious “Mythical Five” for his sterling performance. As expected, U.S. defended its title with the host Brazil finishing second and France fourth. The third finish of Philippines was the first and the only strongest finish of an Asia country which remains unequalled until now. After 1954, there’s been no more podium finish for Philippines. In fact we could not even hope to  enter in the Olympic Games in spite of our Fil-Am player s and naturalized tall American ex-NBA cagers to boost our national team. We are now perennially dislodged by China, South Korea, Iran and even Lebanon in Asia’s elimination rounds for a slot in the Olympic Games.

Philippines used to be the king in Asian caging, but not anymore. I’m not even certain that it’s a good policy for our basketball leaders to naturalize foreigners but even that to me is useless because as the records show, we are not in that league. And I don’t precisely know the reason why we can no longer be one of the bests in the world in basketball, our number one favorite game. Perhaps it’s time we accept that we are not a tall people, and slower compared to the height and agility of the Americans and the Europeans.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an anti-Christ. JOHN 1: 7

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