In Huddle

Fiba Asia men’s likely to be postponed

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FIBA Asia secretary general Hagop Khajirian, of all people, should  be conscious and well-informed  of  the Islamic  Ramadan calendar.

Last January,  Hagop  was a guest in Manila to formally  announce  that the Fiba executive committee, after  meeting in Kuala Lumpur, has decided to move the 27th Fiba Asia Men’s Championship  from Beirut, Lebanon, the original site, to Manila in view of the dangerous  political situation on the periphery of Lebanon and the rest of West Asia.

While in Manila,  Hagop took the opportunity to inspect the Mall of Asia Arena, the official venue of the 11-day event, and to finalize  all the arrangements,  specifically the inclusive dates of the event—from Aug. 1 to 11,   which was the choice of Hagop himself.

* * *

Working on the guidelines provided by  Hagop,  the PBA had to drastically  change its schedule to give way to Asia’s biggest basketball event in an effort to meet the SBP’s objective  to form the strongest lineup possible.

The Philippines is eyeing  one of the  top three  slots in the  Fiba Asia championship  to  qualify  for the 2014 World Cup in Spain.

Satisfied that he had fulfilled his mission in Manila,  Hagop went back to his  hometown Lebanon while  the  people concerned  in Manila started preparing for the grand sporting event  we last hosted 40 years ago  in 1973.

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Updates on the Fiba Asia have been unheard of since Hagop’s visit to Manila until last Tuesday during an NBA presscon hosted by Hans Sy of the Mall of Asia Arena where the first ever preseason NBA game  between the Houston Rockets and the Indiana Pacers will be played.

On that occasion, I happened to share the same table  with PBA commissioner Chito Salud, PBA media bureau chief Willie Marcial  and Arnel Gonzales,  manager of the MOA Arena.

I gathered from their discussion that  there had been a request from the Gulf countries  to move  back the date of the Fiba Asia championship by one week, to ensure that the Ramadan period would be over.

The Ramadan is a period of intense prayer and fasting  which lasts for several weeks. I’ve been to many countries in the Middle East  during Ramadan  and I’ve witnessed  those who observe this religious  Muslim tradition refrain from eating food and drinking water from sunrise to sunset. Stores in Muslim countries  are also closed during the hours of fasting and prayer and opened only in the late afternoon.

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Although the PBA will have to  again completely redo  its schedule  based on the request which may be  impossible to turn down because the Gulf countries might pull out of the tournament,  the league probably has no choice but to postpone the event  by another week, at the very least.

The big problem is  the Arena has other commitments after Aug. 11 from which  they cannot pull out of.

“If ever, a later sked will conflict with the James Taylor concert,” said Arnel.

“But the venue may only be a minor problem,  compared to the other problems  we will face if we change the schedule,” said  former  Fiba Asia (then called ABC) secgen Moying Martelino, the SBP’s adviser/consultant to the 27th  Fiba Asia championship.

“We will have to cancel all our bookings—for hotels, land transpo, etc … and  the new schedule prepared by the PBA  magugulo na naman. The league has scheduled the opening of its third conference two days after the Fiba Asia tournament ends. There will be no room for extensions or postponements, ” explained Moying.

He also pointed out that  it was Hagop who recommended the date. Moying said  that Hagop,  though Lebanese, is Christian and not Muslim, but as Fiba Asia secgen,  should be aware of the Ramadan calendar.

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  • sam_aquino

    FIBA Asia secretary general Hagop Khajirian could have intentionally planned this very well, for us to fail…  to embarrass us…i just hope i am wrong…

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