Mendoza: Nothing new in Asiad case for Blatche

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By Al S. Mendoza

All Write

Friday, August 29, 2014


IF Andray Blatche gets disqualified from playing for Gilas Pilipinas in the Korean Asian Games next month, I would be the least surprised.

As I said, in the Eighties—I think it was 1984—we had three naturalized Filipinos in Jeff Moore, Dennis Still and Chip Engelland. These Americans became Filipinos by presidential fiat under dictator Marcos.

Danding Cojuangco, then the basketball godfather, brought the three to the ABC Games (forerunner of the Fiba Asia Cup) as reinforcement of the Philippine Team. He did that after he was assured that the Fiba (World Basketball Federation) had given the three Americans the green light to represent the Philippines.

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Cojuangco spent virtually a fortune to finance his men’s trip to the Fiba headquarters in Geneva to iron out whatever kinks that might jeopardize the Americans’ participation in the ABC.

Turns out Cojuangco’s men goofed. Moore, Still, and Engelland were declared ineligible to play in the Hong Kong ABC for deficiency in documents.

If memory serves, the three Americans had already played for the Philippines when the organizers’ decision came. All our games had been forfeited.

Cojuangco was angry but he didn’t show it in front of the members of the Philippine delegation. He was a total picture of grace under pressure. I know. I was there.

And now this, Blatche, naturalized only last June, possibly getting barred from the Asian Games if OCA (Olympic Council of Asia) officials would have their way.

While basketball in the Asiad is Fiba-sanctioned, it seems there are Asian Games rules that might stop Blatche from representing the Philippines.

I will find it weird, really, should Blatche gets axed because, look, he is qualified to play for the Philippines in the Spain Fiba Worlds set to start today (PHL versus Croatia) but not in the Asiad?

Well, the Philippines will be tough to beat with Blatche in the Asiad. Standing 6-foot-11, he is a legitimate center who played for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets. This could be the only reason why, maybe, the Koreans, who will defend the basketball gold, are
blocking Blatche’s stint.

Who said sportsmanship is alive?

For one gold, some officials will circumvent the rules if only to satiate their greed.

(alsol47@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 30, 2014.

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