FIBA Asia 2015: China cheat sheet Gold standard
FIBA Asia 2015 Aftermath: In today’s editorial we document the tactics used by China Basketball to covet GOLD in FIBA Asia 2015 as Pilipinas Basketball settled for Silver. We believe that the formidable China squad could have won the tournament without resorting to obvious game-rigging. We analyze what transpired over the course of Gilas preparations, the factors that led to to the Silver finish and what can be improved in the next staging of the Asian joust.
Falling second to China, Gilas Pilipinas Basketball is capable of bringing back home the FIBA Asia Gold Medal. That’s a fact. Despite the meager two month’s preparation, Andray Blatche being overweight, the apparent barring of PBA players, and the apathy of Team Owners, Gilas 3.0 blitzed and overchieved against all odds. The Gilas Magnificent 12, the coaching staff, SBP and the MVP crew should be commended. It was indeed, a job well done.
The Philippine Five brushed aside the exodus of several PBA players from Gilas, the lackluster Estonia tournament finish and the personal issues that saddled Andray Blatche. Jordan Clarkson was also barred by the LA Lakers to play for Gilas past the preliminaries. In the two months preparation that they had, RP Five still made a good note with only weeks before the Changsha skirmish by finishing second in Jones Cup 2015 and the MVP Cup afterwards. FIBA Asia by all indications was still a long shot. Yet they achieved the unexpected, but not without the accompanying heart-breaks of a scandalous home-cooking.
As the present media storm over the Asian finals dissipate, we also take notice of the swipes hurled by Chinese die-hard fans against their Filipino counterparts. The apparent Chinese defense is to brand Filipino fans to be sore and salty when defeated. What some asinine supporters of Team Dragon fail to recognize is that Pinoy Basketball fans are more than intelligent to critic a basketball game with it being a mainstream national sport in this country. It would not have made so much hullaballoo if the game was fought fair and square. Talking about “Lutong Makaw” (Cooked in Macau). Beat a Filipino five without rigging the game and you’ll surely gain new fans.
China basketball may cheat its way into the Asian championships, but history remembers unmatched world records. The Philippines still holds the highest place for any Asian nation in the FIBA World and Olympic basketball. RP Five got the Bronze in FIBA Worlds in 1954, and Fifth place in the Olympics in 1936. No country in Asia, and that includes China, Iran and South Korea, except the Philippines made this historic feat.
And so we talk about the cooking-show.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”, as a famous quote by George Santayana stated. Therefore, lest we forget, we document what transpired in the championships. We made a cheat sheet of China’s Gold standard. These include the harrassment of the Filipino contingent in Changsha, the home-cooked officiating, and the deliberate mistreatment of Pilipinas Basketball Team in FIBA Asia 2015. Most of these information were leaked online by no less than Manny V. Pangilinan via Twitter before the Finals commenced:
- It is stated in FIBA rules that national teams stay in one hotel. Chinese players were given privileges to stay in better hotels outside the one provided for all national squads.
- The Semifinal game between Philippines and Japan was moved past an hour than the scheduled gametime. Given less than 24 hours before the finals, the Filipinos were not afforded ample time to rest and rehydrate before the championship match against China. Chinese authorities did this two nights in a row before the vital finals game.
- The electric bus which was supposed to take the Filipino contingent to the finals venue was not charged and so the Filipino dribblers lost time for the important scrimmages and shoot arounds before the game commenced. They had to transfer to another transport bus when they were supposed to be in the court practicing their craft.
- While Gilas was doing the shoot-around, the basketball net in their side was adjusted intentionally by the Chinese court crew, devoiding the Pinoys of the needed shooting awareness and rhythm minutes before an important game. The net in the Chinese side was not changed at all.
- As the finals game continued, Calvin Abueva and several Philippine Basketball officials were harrassed and challenged to a fight by rowdy Chinese basketball fans (probably syndicate or paid hacks) and even the Chinese media camera crew in the courtside joined in the fray. Bottles were also thrown by the fans toward the Filipino bench. What’s worse, the court security personnel did not do anything to contain the critical situation.
- Non-calls, dubious violations, invisible fouls. The referrees won this game for China. Jayson Castro was called for a panthom travelling violation. Yi Jianlian threw a shot, missed with an airball and rebounded the ball himself – no travelling. Gabe Norwood was whacked in front of the Kazakh referree by Zhou Qi – no foul called but RP turnover. Backcourt violation against Gilas when the ball was obviously tapped by a Chinese cager. Several hacks, kicks, elbows and stomps were later made by the Chinese but the calls were just non-existent. In the latter half, there were no more TV slow-motions when the replays were shown by the Chinese media covering the FIBA finals. Highly suspicious?
- Three Chinese players in the FIBA Asia Mythical Five? Guo Ailun benefited most from the freethrows gifted by the Refs in the finals. But was he as dominant throughout the tournament? Highly doubtful. The same can be said of Zhou Qi, was he consistent? Hamed Haddadi, Andray Blatche, Joji Takeuchi or Makoto Hiejima would have been the shoo-ins for the awards. Of course, scoring machines Jayson Castro and Nikkhah Bahrami should get the nod. Yi Jianlian was not dominant against the Philippines, but he was the regular scorer for China, so he deserved an award. Something was amiss with China getting three in the mythical plum.
The Chinese rigging machine was in full-swing during the Changsha joust. We then ask ourselves, why will Chinese basketball authorities do this when they already have a strong team? Mind you, they did the same horrendous officiating opposite Iran NT. The simple reason? Despite fielding-in a formidable squad, China may have been paranoid of humiliation in their own homecourt. They may have figured that they may not repeat the Gold medal feat in the next FIBA Asia where it may likely be hosted outside China, outside their control and outside their dreaded influence.
China basketball may have felt threatened, and feared that they may lose an upset against Pilipinas and be routed by Iran. The ten-point digit lead by China throughout the three quarters of the finals against Pilipinas confirmed this. China basketball is no longer the dominant hoops force in Asia. They are susceptible to being defeated even in their homecourt, what more outside of it?
They are bullies and control freaks, but at the end of the day, they feared not only a basketball meltdown, but a political and propaganda backlash if they lost to a Philippine team in their own home soil. It was better to cheat, than be beat. Hence, “Lutong Makaw” was prepared and served raw in Changsha for the whole world to digest. Shameful, but they still got the Gold in the end. As the famous quote said, “The end justifies the means.”
While the host basketball authoritiy may have done the gruesome part, the Chinese basketball team was still a competent rival. We commend Gilas 3.0 for giving the East Asian hosts a good fight. In the end, the freewthrows also played part in the Filipino loss. Philippines should hire a competent shooting coach like the legendary Chip Engelland.
To better prepare for the next engagements of Gilas in the upcoming FIBA Asia, we also want to address several concerns in the aftermath of this debacle in Changsha:
- FIBA must investigate the blatant bias officiating and the undue harrassment of participants, just like what happened to the Filipino contingent in Changsha. FIBA should also castigate and suspend any erring Local Organizing Committees in every FIBA sanctioned event. Why has FIBA repeatedly awarded the hosting rights to China for the recent four stagings of the FIBA championships since 2003? Is there favoritism? Is someone being influenced or paid? If you dig deep enough, you may come across an article about a Chinese FIBA official who was convicted in China due to corruption charges. Of course FIBA may claim innocence. But let us not forget that anyone is susceptible to corruption. Anyone heard of the recent scandal rocking FIFA due to corruption? The United States, the EU or the UN should also meddle and scrutinize the inner dealings of the premier basketball body. As we all know, the next FIBA Worlds will be staged in China, and we may see a repeat of the evils staged in Changsha.
- The Philippine Senate and Congress must step-in and investigate the probable betrayal and wanton disregard of national interest of some team owners. In our previous editorial “Corporate muck threatens Pilipinas Basketball Team?”, we underscored the need to balance the interests of the teams and the national call. The Senate should pass a law requiring all Pro players to serve the nation when called upon, and ban anyone from the sport who would pretend injury as reason for avoidance to play. Team Owners should also be prosecuted if found liable in the blackmail of any cagers. These entrepreneurs enrich themselves in Filipino manpower, they should also be hammered if they are found abusing the priveleges they receive from this country.
- The possible formation and the revival of the Gilas Cadet program by the SBP is laudable. However, we caution everyone not to be misled by statements that this is the alternative to the pick-up system. Whoever intimated this statement from the Pro brass is irresponsible and only would likely satisfy their greed to disallow the ‘cream of the crop’ Pro players from suiting-up for the nationals. The answer? Continue the Cadet system but do not withhold any players from the national five – Period.
- The SBP should establish regulations to protect players performing national duty. They should implement an insurance protection mechanism in case a player gets accidentally injured while in Gilas. SBP should also appease Team Owners by suggesting an agreement with the Pro league on who would shoulder wages and player contracts. Make arrangements like replace an injured star player with an additional import, possible draft pick perks or player trade advantages.
- Naturalize more players for Gilas. If Andray Blatche was in 100% perfect form during FIBA Asia, Gilas would have surely brought home the Gold. In cases where a reinforcement cager is injured or unavailable due to external factors, at least Pilipinas has a backup to utilize. The recruitment of young basketeers with Fil-Foreign blood should also be continued to deepen the pool of prospective national stars.
- Protect the SBP from political devils with selfish motives. If anyone still remembers the dark days of Philippine Basketball during the tyranny of BAP, you would understand. As SBP President Manny V. Pangilinan steps down this year, some crooked officials may take the helm and ruin the developments gained by the national basketball body. MVP brought back the golden years of Pinoy basketball, his replacement should not only continue his reforms but impose unity and the betterment of the national five as a whole. We also request Mr. MVP to continue supporting Gilas as a patriotic Filipino against all opposition. For the sake of this country, please appoint people with only the best intentions for this basketball nation. Expunge the turncoat political devils and rotten bureaucrats from thy ranks.
If Gilas 3.0 still copped Silver despite being weighed down by our own local issues and the shenanigans imposed by China basketball, RP Five achieved the improbable. They reached the finals against all odds. Philippines beat a fearsome Iran team, a determined Japan NT and a dangerous Lebanon squad. And yet, everyone yearns the rematch for the ages. Pilipinas Basketball may probably face China once again in the next championships. We pray that Gilas be better prepared, PBA and SBP unified for one national cause, and the Asian championship be hosted and officiated with impartiality and professionalism. Yes, the Filipino can do the inevitable. If everything falls into place, Gold in FIBA Asia would still be up for grabs.