BAP-SBP election set amidst TRO threat

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — DESPITE a looming threat of a court order, the BAP-Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is set to elect its first set of permanent officers during the group’s major general assembly just before noon today at the Dusit Hotel in Makati.

With nobody opposing his bid for the BAP-SBP presidency, telecommunication mogul Manny V. Pangilinan is expected to be given a fresh mandate by the 25-man board and serve, for the next four years, as head of an association that has never run out of controversies.

The latest of those never-ending hitches is the reported Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) being sought by a breakaway group representing the Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) aimed at preventing the SBP from holding its June 12 gathering.

Officials of the breakaway faction ?” from elected president Prospero Pichay, board member Christian Tan and legal counsel Atty. Bonifacio Alentajan ?” neither confirmed nor denied that their own group had sought and filed for a TRO, but a high-ranking sports official confirmed that that Tan and Alentajan managed to file an injunction and application for TRO against Pangilinan, SBP vice-president Ricky Vargas and SBP legal counsel Marievic Anonuevo at the Makati regional trial court.

To counter it, Vargas and Co. have also filed an opposition to the injunction.

Vargas stressed Pichay, the former Surigao del Sur representative who failed in his Senate bid in the last election, and Camarines Sur Representative Luis Villafuerte have no right to “stop this exercise,” but admitted the threat of a TRO has become “a nuisance.”

“BAP applying for a TRO is a disappointment to say the least,” said Vargas in a text message. “It is an act of desperation of an organization no longer recognized by the POC and FIBA out to destroy basketball. There is no place for this in sports.”

Pichay was elected president of the SBP breakaway faction in a separate national congress held last June 4 at the Century Park Hotel. During the same gathering, Villafuerte was named as chairman of the group.

Outgoing SBP executive director Patrick Gregorio said it’s a pity that the group of Pichay and Villafuerte had to resort to such dirty tactics just to prevent the country’s sole governing body for basketball duly recognized by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) from conducting its general assembly and election of officers.

“Nakakalungkot na ang isang ganitong suliranin na dapat ay pang-sports lamang, ay kailangan pang panghimasukan ng korte,” said Gregorio, who will be heading Smart Sports shortly after his term as SBP executive director ends today.

“But with or without TRO, we will go on with our gathering and assembly tomorrow (today).”

Gregorio is also tight-lipped on his possible successor, but a top SBP official confirmed to PJ that former Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) commissioner Noli Eala already has a lock on the job.

“Noli Eala has already been informed by MVP about his possible appointment. He’s been highly recommended by Pato (Gregorio) and Mr (Ricky) Vargas for the position,” said the basketball official who refused to be named.

“He’s a perfect fit for the job because of his passion for basketball. At the same time, as head of Liga Pilipina, he will always be going around the country, which is what the job of an executive director is all about,” added the same high-ranking SBP executive.

Eala also gave his two cents worth on the looming issue, saying that with the SBP adopting its own constitution and by-laws, “it has superceded” all the agreements entered into by the BAP and SBP in the past, including the Bangkok Agreement and the Tokyo Communique the breakaway BAP group had used as the basis in holding elections last week.

In holding its own elections, the renegade group had claimed majority of its members were disenfranchised by the SBP membership committee headed by former PBA chairman Ely Capacio.

Only 19 sectoral representatives were given the green light by Capacio’s committee to join today’s elections.

The group also claimed that 67 of the 80 original stakeholders as provided by the Bangkok Agreement attended its June 4 election, most of which were disenfranchised by the SBP membership committee.

Vargas, denying the BAP’s claim, said the 19 sectoral representatives approved by Capacio’s committee met the standards set by the SBP. He added the BAP-SBP, the group recognized by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), is continually reaching out to other sectors and helping them “in the accreditation process so they can be admitted as SBP members.”

An influential member of the breakaway group from the BAP earlier admitted that the leadership of Pichay has been skeptical about seeking a TRO, and would rather have its case be heard within the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) arbitration panel.

But late yesterday, Tan and Alentajan managed to file one, stressing in their complaint that a national congress was already held last June 4 at the Century Park Hotel in Manila.

“The convening of yet another national congress will only duplicate what had already been accomplished. This will create another serious problem in Philippine Basketball as it shall mislead the general public and waste the time, effort, and means of all supporters of the game of basketball,” part of the complaint read.

Meanwhile, POC media relations officer Joey Romasanta said president Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco will attend today’s gathering along with legal counsel Atty. Ding Tanjuatco and Bacolod City Representative Monico Puentevella, who will be the official POC representative in the election.

In case Puentevella will be appointed by Pangilinan for an official position within the SBP as some dailies had been floating, Romasanta said the POC vice-president has to inhibit himself as the POC representative, a position which Atty. Tanjuatco will then assume.

“But then again, Congressman Puentevella being given a position within the SBP is just mere rumors. So let’s just see what happens during the course of the election,” Romasanta added.