WHY the Seaba (Southeast Asia Basketball Association) scheduled its qualifying event for the 27th Fiba Asia Men’s Championship in Manila so close to the main tournament, no one can explain.
A reliable source said a feud within the Malaysian basketball federation could be a factor since Malaysia, where the Seaba head office is located, was the original venue of the Southeast Asian subzonal competition.
The Southeast Asia subzonal is still to be staged long after the Fiba draw was completed at Manila Hotel last June 8.
Only four countries—Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore—will dispute the two Fiba Asia berths in the four-day tournament, slated June 20 to 23.
Although the Philippines belongs to this Fiba subzone, it already learned automatic qualification for the Fiba Asia tournament as host country and for placing in the top four of the last Fiba Asia Championship in Wuhan, China.
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According to reports, nobody wanted to host the Southeast Asia subzonal until former Seaba head Erik Thohir of Indonesia came to the rescue.
“Thohir arranged for the competition to be held in Medan,” said Bernie Atienza, deputy executive director of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.
Atienza said Fiba Asia secretary general Hagop Khajirian will still preside over the designation of the champion and second-placed teams in the main tournament, set Aug. 1 to 11.
“This is to determine which of the two teams will be designated as SEA 1 and SEA 2.”
During the recent Fiba Asia draw, SEA 1 was picked to join Group D with Kazakhstan, India and Bahrain.
SEA 2 will be in Group C along with China, South Korea and Iran.
Being the host country, the Philippines was given the special privilege of choosing its group. Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes chose Group A, in the company of Jordan, Chinese-Taipei and Saudi Arabia.
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HOOPVINE: The 16 teams in the 27th Fiba Asia Championship will be billeted at Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati… Eight games are scheduled daily—six to be played at Mall of Asia Arena and two at Ninoy Aquino Stadium… “We’re working double time. We don’t have the luxury of having to prepare for 12 months, the usual time given a host country,” said Atienza, who reminded me that Lebanon was the original host. “But we’re about 90 percent ready for the August event.”