Will they stay or go to the Universiade? (inboundpass.com)

Posted by Tony L. Atayde at www.inboundpass.com

The Philippine Collegiate Champions League was supposed to have been a success. It brought together all the major collegiate teams in the country. It had a terrific final game, pitting arch rivals La Salle versus Ateneo. Everyone thought that it was the year that would be the beginning of the concept of crowning a true National Champion.

Ateneo was of course heavily favored, after it steamrolled over the competition, on the way to the finals. Even with the absence of starters Chris Tiu and Ryan Buenafe, the Blue Eagles looked formidable. A finals win would have given them a sweep of the major collegiate basketball championships.

La Salle on the other hand, had a harder time. In the semis, they had to have a late game steal and conversion to get to the finals.

In the end La Salle overwhelmed the Blue Eagles and with that, was supposed to come a slew of prizes. There was a P500,000.00 cash prize and most importantly, the right to represent the country in the 2009 Universiade Games in Belgrade.

Now it seems that a lot of what was promised before the tournament may not have come to pass. First, the La Salle team who won the championship only received P400,000.00, of which P30,000.00 was in gift certificates and P370,000.00 was in cash. The reason allegedly given for the P100,000.00 shortfall, was that it was used as prize money for the individual awards.

As I was going over the many press releases for the Philippine Collegiate Champion’s League, I saw that the amount of P500,000.00 was repeatedly heralded as the winning prize money. If the reason given was that the shortfall was used for the prizes for the individual awards, then why trumpet a prize of a half million pesos for the winner in the first place. That is a 20% shortfall or about P5,000 per member of the winning team.

The biggest prize of the PCC tournament was that the winning team will represent the Philippines in the 2009 Universiade Games in Serbia. La Salle, the PCC champion, was supposed to be that team. However, now it looks like it may not happen after all.

First, it has been rumored that the UAAP will have its opening on July 11, 2009. The Universiade basketball competition ends on July 12, 2009. Allegedly, the UAAP Board has no intentions of moving the opening date to accommodate the entry of La Salle in the Universiade. This may be because the UAAP works on a tight calendar of year-round events in different sports.

If the UAAP schedule is the issue, then it would appear that the Samahan Basketbol ng Pilipinas, of which the UAAP is a member, did not coordinate the matter with the UAAP Board before making it a part of the PCC champion team’s prize.

There are even unverified reports that it was suggested that La Salle did not have to send its top players to the Unversiade or evem that a selection of players from different schools be created for this purpose. Is that fair? If La Salle would not send their best players, then the school would be accused of abandoning the country’s interest. Sending a selection of players from different schools would take away from the integrity of a commitment made.

Furthermore, a look at the website of the Belgrade Universiade 2009, http://www.ub2009.org/dokumenta/prijave/Participation%20Forms%20Schedule.pdf, one can see that the submission of the “Intention to Participate Form” was Oct. 1, 2008, which was way before the PCCL. Secondly, the deadline for submission of the “General Entry Form” was Jan. 1, 2009. Lastly, the deadline for what is called “Final Engagement Form” or the final list of athletes who will participate, was on February 1, 2009.

The PCC is a sanctioned tournament of the SBP. Has the SBP submitted these forms? Have they gathered all the documentations of the players? Has the SBP paid the participation fee? Lastly, did the Philippines even qualify or get invited to send a team to the Universiade? These questions have to be answered in the interest of transparency.

A commitment was made by the SBP, which is the highest basketball governing body in the Philippines. Participation in the 2009 Belgrade Universiade was used as a come-on for teams to join the league. Does the winner of the PCC now have to beg to get the prize that they won fair and square? Would the same thing have happened if a school other than La Salle would have won the PCC tournament? In the event that the SBP cannot send La Salle to the Unversiade for whatever reason, they should not send a team at all, for this will have the obvious appearance of discrimination. If SBO cannot fulfill their promise, then they should instead give La Salle the money that it allocated for the tournament and allow La Salle to decide which tournament it may choose to join.

In the event La Salle goes to the Universiade but fails to qualify for the later rounds, it will be forced to leave the games early, for them to be back in time for the UAAP opening. If that happens, expect the naysayers to climb on their soap boxes and chastise the Green Archers for abandoning the tournament.

If La Salle does not get the prize that it was promised, they will not be the loser here. It will be the PCC and the SBP who will lose. The PCC would lose all the headway they made in last year’s tournament while the SBP will lose its credibility in its ability to support good leagues such as the PCC. They will definitely not get the same response they did last year if they do not deliver on their promises.

Personally, I hope that the SBP clears this matter up and makes the necessary arrangements to deliver on their promise. The PCC is too good a tournament to be tarnished with a controversy such as this.

Courtesy of Tony L. Atayde of  inboundpass.com

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