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Philippine basketball’s ‘wild goose chase’

12:01 AM July 13, 2016

With our fond dream—of Gilas Pilipinas making it to the 2016  Olympics—dashed to pieces on our own soil, Filipino basketball lovers should just accept, no matter how hard it is for them, that we are only good for neighborhood basketball and out of our depths in international basketball. It is true that we once figured in world basketball, but that was in an era when other countries did not yet know the game existed. The sooner we realize that in basketball, like in other aspects of life, passion is not all the better for us—or we are in for more heartbreaks in the future.

For this particular Olympic illusion, we pulled all the stops out. Congress even humored us by “legislating” somebody with nary a drop of Filipino blood into becoming a Filipino. The great majority see nothing wrong with that because the International Basketball Federation allows naturalized players. My personal quarrel with the decision is that it has created the bizarre situation where the heart and soul of the Philippine national team belongs to another race.

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As a race, we are not meant to go anywhere in basketball. First, Andray Blatche. If we’re world-class in basketball, why the need for a complete foreigner? Second, past a certain height, Filipino basketball players are lumbering, so that smaller players can run circles around them. That’s our glaring  difference with other races, whose seven-footers can be star basketball players. Third, lack of height; other races who excel in basketball show that just like in boxing, the big fast man beats the small

fast man.

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In a different context, the culprit in our continuing misfortunes in world basketball is not our lack of height; rather, it’s our inferior hoops talent. We have had imports in past PBA reinforced conferences who were shorter than some of their local teammates. And a lot of  NBA superstars like Allen Iverson are shorter than our tall players. You match them with Filipino and Fil-foreigner players of any height and there will be a “massacre.”

Fourth, the NBA. How come players from other countries qualify for the ultimate basketball league while a Filipino player making it there is still a dream—more than a century after we learned the game? As for the one or two Fil-Americans playing in the league, it is highly possible that it’s their American genes that got them there, otherwise we would have local players campaigning in the

league already.

Fifth, the domination of Gilas Pilipinas by Fil-Ams. I contend that if a race is truly cut for a certain sports, it is axiomatic that it would excel in the game as purebred. No mix with other races needed. Boxing and chess have shown us this. And, yes, talking about our heavy reliance on Fil-Ams, we would never become world beaters again unless we have Fil-Ams who qualify for the US national team or, at the very least, do good in the NBA, and they suit up for the country. That’s because without players of that caliber, our national team will dominate the cellar. I do not see a Fil-Am taking the place of Blatche in Gilas Pilipinas in the foreseeable

future.

Time to shake off the delusion that we can bring back the heydays of Carlos Loyzaga. With the other races learning the game, those days are gone forever. Time to rechannel the sports passion— and also resources—to where they will do the nation good. Enough of this wild goose chase.

—ESTANISLAO C. ALBANO JR., [email protected]

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TAGS: 2016 Olympics, Basketball, Gilas Pilipinas
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