CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 22 August) – Basketball loving Pinoys will transform into analysts with the coming of the FIBA World Cup 2023 (starting on August 25).
Height is mighty in basketball. We knew that. Players just kept on growing to dominate the game.
Pinoys wished, we have tall players. Now, we do have seven feet (ft), three inches (in) Kai Sotto. We do have 6 ft 10 in Junmar Fajardo and AJ Edu, Japeth Aguilar at 6 ft 9 in, and a couple of guards and small forwards between 6 ft 2 in and 6 ft 7 in.
But basketball isn’t just height anymore, it is height and speed. World class basketball teams have seven-footers who can sprint up and down the court fast, dribble, and pass like point guards. Teams run fast, pass and dribble a little, the whole game, be it 40 or 48 minutes. The best teams actually fly or so they seem with their blinding speeds.
PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) basketball is small ball and slow – dribble and shoot. The big men are still trained as post-up players. Most top scorers can’t move without the ball.
With the loss of Gilas Pilipinas to Montenegro in a pre-world cup friendly, many scribes and vloggers thought the Gilas gave a fight by giving the visitors a close game in the first half. Wrong and wrong again.
In today’s basketball, winning the game needs running fast up and down the court, shooting and making stops, respectively, the whole 40 or 48 minutes.
Now that we have the height, our players need to develop speed and stamina. Our big men have to be strong, nifty, and shoot from beyond the arc. We do not need fancy dribblers for isolation plays and half court set ups. Forget about Stephen Curry’s fancy dribbling, he is sui generis (of its own kind).
Pinoys know these things watching the NBA more than the PBA, I think.
The PBA is PH’s strongest promoter of basketball, it still is. In the same breadth, the PBA is the weakest link of the country to the hoops world. Commercialism in the PBA is crass, the attitude of “pwede na” pervasive, and “palakasan” a norm.
Politics is the curse in PH basketball. Basketball is a sport. Like any other sports, it is competitive. Make politics dominant and you have more competition than sports development, from coaching down to ball boys. Exhibit 1 is Chot Reyes; Exhibit 2 is Tab Baldwin; and, Exhibit 3 the diaspora of young players to leagues abroad.
SBP (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas) should be renamed Samahan ng Basketball Politics.
Then, these politicians have enablers. First, the so-called pundits who are part of the commercial value chain of teams and players. Good PR does not make good players. It does make mediocre players look good, though. And now, there is this proliferation of shameless, ignorant vloggers who are actually masyadors (bet seekers) of online betting.
The whole domestic basketball ecology is problematic, stumbling down. The future of PH basketball is not Ginebra, definitely, not the PBA.
No wonder Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia and some European leagues have become lucrative for players who really know how to play ball. Di ba Scottie, Dwight, Berto Bolick, Matthew Wright, Renz and many more?
Meanwhile, let us welcome to PH the Fiba World Cup!
P.S. Gilas will win vs Angola. And hindi ako tahimik haters hahaha
(The writer is an environmentalist, and independent climate change and renewable energy campaigner who dabbles in strategic communications and public relations. He is a former journalist. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.)