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12:32 AM July 21st, 2013

By: Beth Celis, July 21st, 2013 12:32 AM

HOW HEARTBREAKING it must have been for the Lebanese national team  to be banned from playing in  the  Fiba Asia Men’s  Championship that will be held here in Manila August 1 to 11.

One of the highly touted and most avid participants in the 16-nation biennial meet,  the Lebanese were the first to arrive in Manila because they planned to have their final tuneup here before the big event. The Lebanese  arrived about three weeks early, looking forward to a series of tuneup games  with PBA teams.

Unfortunately, even before they could play a single game on Philippine soil,  the Lebanese Basketball Federation ordered the team to return  home on the first flight available.

I learned of this development as early as Thursday from PBA media bureau chief Willie Marcial after the group canceled all their scheduled tuneup games  with PBA teams and the rest of their booking at Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Willie said Lebanon would be replaced by UAE (United Arab Emirates) in Group B  where it has earlier been bracketed along with Japan, Qatar and Hong Kong.

Moying Martelino, deputy CEO of the local organizing committee said, however, that the  Fiba  has yet to issue  a formal advice regarding the replacement for Lebanon.

“It’s possible that there will be no replacement, in which case all three Group B teams—Japan, Qatar and Hongkong—will move up to the next round automatically,” Moying said.

According to the former Fiba Asia secretary general,  Lebanon was suspended by the Fiba  for four years because of continuing squabbles  within the Lebanese Basketball Federation. That also happened to the Philippines  about  seven years ago, but at least we were only suspended for two years.

For the next four years, Lebanon will not be able  to compete in any Fiba-sanctioned tournament.

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If you think the turnout of Miami Heat fans  at a Nike outlet in Taguig   (seeking free tickets to  the LeBron  James appearance at the Mall of Asia Arena on  July 23) was overwhelming, listen to this.

Last Thursday,  the total head count of  Ginebra fans who threatened to march to the San Miguel offices in Mandaluyong to rally for the ouster of  a sports official who caused  the Gin Kings’ head coach Alfrancis Chua to resign was up to 43,000.

Lucky for the official, SMC management  decided to move him to  another department that has nothing to do  with basketball or any other sport for that matter. The planned rally  was aborted and a possible disaster averted.

Alfrancis was prevailed upon to stay, but he requested for a leave of absence and may return  next season, possibly in another capacity.

* * *

No wonder there’s a dearth of boxers in the country today.

From Australia, where he and several other boxers from the South were brought by an unscrupulous character posing as a boxing promoter, Allan Jay Tunacao reported that they had been promised a lucrative boxing career.

However, when the group got to the land down under, the promise turned out to be just that—a promise. The boxers ended up as houseboys, and Allan Jay became a houseboy-farmer. Maybe our government agencies can help these poor boxers who were duped by this  wily houseboy promoter.

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