Strike two

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By Henry G. Doble

Take Two

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

IGNORANCE of the law excuses no one.

Not even the Pambansang Kamao is exempt from this tenet as "Delilah" of BIR cut the sting of "Samson's" power, spoiling the solon's return to the country after winning in Macau. Superstars can escape from stalkers, wine, women and song at casinos, but not with taxes.

Even the notorious Mafia boss Al Capone was imprisoned through the work of accountants in "Untouchables" and it means one thing: no one is above the law and nobody can escape death and taxes.

It is a different thing in the Negros Occidental Private Schools Sports Cultural and Educational Association (Nopsscea).

The case of University of St. La Salle's 12-Under basketball team should have not been ignored by Rev. Edwin Madlangbayan and the Nopsscea president, who cleared the Baby Stingers after violating the 15-player-to-play rule of the association.

Since 1990 or earlier, the Nopsscea Rules allow only a maximum of 15 players in all categories of basketball. In FIBA-organized tournaments each team is allowed only 14 players, only 12 to play, the two being alternates. Very simple, very accurate rule to follow.

This season, inadvertently or not, USLS fielded 20 players. Per Nopsscea official scorebook, it used 15 players against St. Scholastica's Academy. In its second game against Bacolod Tay Tung High School it utilized 14 players but four – Kamei, Ramos, Villarino and Besa were new and not in the original 15.

Against St. Benilde School, 16 players suit up including the additional four who played against the Thunderbolts. In its Game 4 against Jack and Jill School at City Heights, La Salle sent in 18 players with another additional in Baby Stinger Javelona.

Javelona was in the line-up of 13 entries when USLS encountered UNO-Recoletos in Game 5. Javelona was missing among the 12 players in its quarterfinal game 1 against BTTHS and its QF game 2 against Don Bosco Technical Institute where USLS used 14 players.

When the protest came up initiated by St. John's Institute with the signatures of coaches from BTTHS, Trinity Christian School and Bacolod Christian College of Negros, Rev. Madlangbayan, who replaced resigned Sports TF chair Anthony Carlo Agustin, ordered USLS to choose whether to play in the semifinal scheduled for November 23 or in the SBP-Passerelle national finals in Pampanga.

The November 23 SF and November 24 finals never happened. La Salle played and finished second in the national Small Basketeers of the Philippines category. The order of Madlangbayan issued on the coaches meeting at McDonald's Lacson on November 18 evaporated and the other three semifinalists waited in vain.

On the eve of November 30, the Nopsscea president issued a clearance for USLS to play in the semifinal game against TCS which was reported to have threatened to boycott the SF. BCAN president Bobby Tee, who was picked to finish overseeing all the basketball games of Nopsscea, was reported to have convinced the schools especially TCS to appear.

What compounded the issue, aside from Nopsscea not declaring the two games where USLS used 16 and 18 players forfeited, is that Nopsscea allowed USLS to field whoever it pleases in the semifinals and not the original 15 players USLS it used in its first game in the elimination round.

This put tournament manager Tee in a difficult spot since it was the bargaining chip he offered TCS not to boycott. Whatever transpired after that, the 12U tournament ended with SJI beating USLS in the final. Still, despite the closure, TCS was reported to file another protest on the same issue of "over the limit" entry of USLS.

Why is TCS so aghast and disappointed with the Nopsscea's decision? If USLS' games were forfeited against SBS and JJS-CH, Jack and Jill should ranked second behind BTTHS at 3-2 same as the La Sallians. The Baby Stingers should have been eliminated outright (even at 3-2) in the eliminations by virtue of JJS-CH "win- over-the-other-rule" in case of double tie.

As number 2 in bracket B, TCS believed it has a good chance of beating BTTHS in the crossover semifinal while JJS-CH played underdog against the eventual champion SJI Baby Falcons. It did not happen because Nopsscea decided otherwise as if there is no rule or sanction at all.

How about the school and the coach who "fooled" the Screening Committee? It is absurd to blame resigned TM for basketball Dante Albao, whose forte is chess that he "allowed" USLS to get away with it. It is the Screening Committee, whoever they are, that should answer and be investigated for such a grave or "intentional" error.

Albao, even if he was involved in the "negotiation" is not authorized to decide on such matter. His duty is to make the schedule, look for venues and see to it that the tournament ends on time, and be "peaceful" as it could be.

Protests surface only when cheaters get away with it and no sanction or disciplinary action is meted on violators who for years have made Nopsscea a laughing stock especially in the screening of credentials and entries.

Nopsscea Rule 7. Entries – 7.4 states "No player/s shall be allowed to play unless cleared by the Screening Committee."

Rule 7.5 is clear: "With regard to the number of players/athletes per sports/event, ground rules, based on the current international rules for each sports or athletic event shall govern."

Arnis - 2 players/weight category
Athletics - 3 entries/event
BASKETBALL - 15 players to play

Were these rules superseded this year by the Nopsscea Board?

Maybe, next season Nopsscea has to start screening athletes in July and start its games in August. September is a very busy month for schools like USLS, UNO-R, BTTHS and others for they are celebrating their loyalty week and other celebrations.

If you look back, Nopsscea is always behind schedule. Maybe it’s time to review Nopsscea's calendar.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on December 10, 2013.


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