No basketball in Laos? - Feb 6, 2009
ONE thing I don't like with the SEA Games is the host country has a virtual say on what games it would want to host.
Always, it's the host's wish that prevails.
Take, for example, the Laos SEA Games set in December in Vientiane.
Laos, as host, is telling us now what disciplines are to be played.
It has put football No. 1 in its list.
It hasn't put basketball last.
Instead, it has consigned basketball to purgatory. Meaning, no basketball in the SEA Games. Nada.
'We have no basketball in Laos,' the Laos hosts said. 'We don't play the game.'
How true. The country does not even have a basketball court.
Without a basketball court, Laos, therefore, has no basketball gym.
In a sense, I can't blame Laos. Just like the Philippines and most Asian countries, let alone SEA countries, Laos has a population whose average height is 5-foot-6. Anyone standing six feet and above is an oddity.
But the country has lots of football fields - football being Laos' national pastime just like the rest of our Asian neighbors.
Well, for one, football, unlike basketball, doesn't require height to excel in the game.
Five-footers, six-footers, they are all equal in football.
Not in basketball, where height is always might.
In Laos, there is not even a national basketball association.
The Philippines, together with Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, have appealed to restore basketball in the December SEA Games.
Thailand has even pledged to finance the construction of a basketball gym for the Games.
FIBA-Asia has also offered to provide technical assistance to run the basketball tournament.
Laos hasn't responded. N'yet.
This is the second time that Laos has scrapped basketball from the 2009 SEA Games calendar.
Why Laos did it again boggles the mind.
The SEA Games is an Olympic calendar. We can't tolerate flip-floppers here.
We won the last basketball gold in 2007 and we are again favored to win it this year.
It will be a terrible blow, especially for the country, should basketball not be restored.
Because for us, Pinoys, any SEA Games event without basketball is as empty as the head of anyone still professing allegiance to Ate Glue.
Courtesy of Al S. Mendoza
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