Accountability is important

By Henry Liao September 09,2019
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Accountability is important

By Henry Liao September 09,2019
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THE buck stops with the national basketball federation.

Accountability is needed. And this is very far from playing the blame game.

We have known in the last three decades that the selection system of national players is not working in its fullest (team chemistry) and the cramming in the training is venomous.

But the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) has done nothing but to put up a coffee table book years ago just because our boys finished second in an Asian competition. So the country reached the FIBA World Cup for a second time – well and good but better in 2014 even as we were the seventh and last-placed team to qualify from Asia in the ongoing tournament.

We played well in the 2014 WC edition, having given the opposition a run for its money. This time we lost all five games badly, including margins of 46 and 57 points that practically doomed our campaign (in case of tiebreakers). Other Asian countries will finish the 2019 World Cup without a win, too, but that’s their own lookout.

Accountability by both players and coaches is also important.

What you do on the floor or in the sidelines affects everyone else on the team. (A team game basketball is, right?).

What coach Tab Baldwin said of Filipino players is so truthful that it hit me right in the head. It was not belittling the players’ capability as a team player but rather the “culture” that exists in the sport that the players find it hard to obliterate.

The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), primarily as a business entity, has done its share to help prepare the national team on the international stage in the last three decades. Unselfishly if I may so. But it’s also time for the professional league to move on and let the national federation do the job on its own.

Dependency is just as bad as mendicancy.

Why do I care and support Team Philippines? Simply it’s because of the name on the players’ jerseys.

Admittedly I am an armchair analyst but I am foremost also a big supporter of PH hoops, or simply call me a fan if you think so lowly of my ilk.

Remember that the fans – no matter how volatile or violent some have been – are also a stakeholder in Philippine basketball.

Their comments and suggestions should never be belittled. Do not underestimate their intelligence. Nobody has the monopoly of basketball knowledge.

Having said it all. I have grieved for some time. In a few more days I shall have moved on.

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas. WE ARE STILL ONE!

* * * * *

There’s no use crying over spilt milk. Whether is what the coaching system, the players, the team chemistry or cramming training or any other cosmetic issues, the end product was that Team Philippines suffered one of the most embarrassing international performances in local basketball history during the 18th FIBA Basketball World Cup in the People’s Republic of China.

The Filipinos registered a 0-5 record, including huge losses in first-round action to Italy (108-62) and Serbia (126-67) and Classification Round games against Tunisia (86-67) and the Islamic Republic of Iran (95-75). Our boys also suffered a sorry 84-81 overtime reversal at the hands of Angola in preliminary-round play.

Team Philippines fell into a tie for the 29th to 32 final rankings in the 32-nation quadrennial competitions, lumped with three other winless teams like Ivory Coast (0-5) and the losers of the Classification Round games featuring Japan (0-4) vs. Montenegro (0-4) and Jordan (0-4) vs. Senegal (0-4) last night.

The last time the Philippines went winless in the FIBA World Cup was in 1978 when it was still known as the FIBA World Basketball Championship. The country played host to that edition and went 0-8 (final round plus the final-placing game), employing amateur players since our best cagers were ineligible after suiting in Asia’s first professional league, the Philippine Basketball Association, which was established in 1975.

The Philippines ranked eighth overall only because our boys were seeded automatically into the round-robin final phase as the host country.

South Korea beat Ivory Coast, 80-71, in last Sunday’s Classification game to score its first win its five appearances to land in the final 25th to 28th places.

In shellacking the Philippines by 20 points, 95-75, coupled host China’s loss to Nigeria, 86-73, also in the Classification Round, the Iranians and Chinese finished with identical 2-3 records.

By virtue of a better combined points differential (points for divided by points against) as the tiebreaker, the Iranians secured the lone Asian ticket to the 12-team men’s basketball tournament in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics from the Classification Round.

China, though improbable, can still sneak into next year’s Olympics if invited by FIBA to participate in any of the four pre-Olympic qualifying tournaments to be staged in different sites.

Nigeria secured the lone berth for African zone, beating Tunisia via a superior point differential. Spain and France got the two automatic Olympic slots from Europe. Argentina and the United States grabbed the two guaranteed berths from the Americas.

Already in among Asian teams are Iran, which won its final two World Cup games, and Japan as the Olympic host.

Meanwhile, seven of the eight slots in the third round (knockout quarterfinals) the ongoing World Cup festivities have been determined as of Sunday night. Note that five teams – and possibly a sixth (depending on last night’s game between the 3-1 Czech Republic and 2-2 Greece) – will be in the Final Eight. Two Tokyo Olympic slots are guaranteed for the European zone.

Australia, with four victories in its first four assignments in the Last 16, had become the second country (after host Japan) to qualify for the Tokyo Olympiad as the best-placed team from Oceania.

The Boomers played equally unblemished France (4-0) late last night in its final second-round game in Group L. While both had advanced to the single-elimination Final Eight, the game result will determine the cross-pairing quarter matchups (Group L-1 vs. Group K-2 and Group L-2 vs. Group K-1 – meaning the loser of France vs. Australia potentially will have to play the U.S.).

The defending champion United States (4-0), which is seeking an unprecedented third consecutive gold medal, faced Brazil (3-1) in its final Last 16 Group K assignment last night. The Americans, regardless of its game result or that of the Czech Republic (3-1) vs. Greece (2-2) encounter or even the application of any tiebreakers, has advanced to the quarterfinals. The twin final Group K games only have any bearing in the determination of the cross-pairing matchups.

In the other side of the second-round groupings, Spain blasted 2014 WC silver medalist Serbia, 81-69, to top Group J while Argentina routed Poland, 91-65, to pace Group I. Spain and Argentina remain unbeaten with identical 5-0 records while both Serbia and Poland also made it to the quarters at 4-1.

The quarterfinal pairings on this side feature Group I-1 Argentina vs. Group J-2 Serbia to be played on Tuesday September 10 at the Dongguan Basketball Center and Group J-1 Spain vs. I-2 Poland to be played on Tuesday September 10 at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center.

The quarter matchups on the Group K-L side feature K-1 vs. L-2 to be played on Wednesday September 11 in Dongguan and L-1 vs. K-2 to be played on Wednesday September 11 in Shanghai.

The quarterfinal losers will play in the 5th-to-8th Classification Round on Thursday September 12 with a cross-pairing format. The fifth-place and seventh-place games will be held in Dongguan on Saturday September 14 in Beijing.

The Final Four games – featuring the I-I vs. J-2 winner against the K-1 vs. L-2 winner and the J-1 vs. I-2 winner against the L-1 vs. K-2 winner – will be held on Wednesday September 13 in Beijing.

The championship and third-place games will be played on Sunday September 15, also in Beijing.

To get to the gold-medal game, the Americans will have to play France or Australia in the quarterfinals, either Argentina, Serbia, Spain or Poland in the semifinals.

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