I’ve been saying this for years—there is something wrong with how basketball is run in the country, and the SBP (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas) is a big part of the problem.
The latest incident, one of many I’ve seen post-pandemic, is just proof of it.
You see, the SBP is the national governing body for basketball in the country and represents the sport in the Philippine Olympic Committee. However, it doesn’t really govern basketball, nor is it a representation of basketball in the Philippines.
Sadly, it’s the same for most NSAs (national sports associations), volleyball included.
But not football. The Philippine Football Federation (PFF), for me, is a true NSA. It has a national and regional presence, and it truly governs the sport. Because of its structure, the PFF’s authority extends to the regions through the member associations. Tournaments, seminars and clinics need the blessing of the regional FA (football association). Of course, there are some who do away with that, but mostly they are LGUs who fund and hold their own tournaments. For a while, it was a problem with DepEd meets, too, but recently, the PFF and DepEd have developed a working relationship.
What’s the difference between how SBP and PFF govern their sports? In football, you need to be certified by the NSA before you get to officiate in any tournament, local or national. It also requires certain licenses for coaches to join its tournaments.
That doesn’t happen in basketball. Any Tom, Dick, and Harry can get a whistle. Heck, I’ve seen a guy who needs beer money regularly earn it as a basketball ref.
The last violent incident in Philippine football that went viral—before “viral” was thing—happened in the Aboitiz Cup in Cebu and this is where the difference between the SBP and the PFF is made obvious.
The Cebu Football Association (CFA), even before the PFF could nudge it, started its probe. When the PFF knew the CFA was taking charge it just waited for the results for the probe and questions regarding the incident, which has gained international prominence, were directed to the CFA.
The punishment was a six-month ban on all football-related activities in Cebu. Meaning, the players couldn’t even watch a game or join a clinic for six months after the incident. And get this, the CFA had the option to elevate the ban nationwide because that’s how the PFF structure works, but didn’t opt to.
In basketball, that’s not the case, because there is no national governing body. One player can punch somebody in one league in one locality and get banned by that league, but still get to play in another league in the same area and punch three more. That’s what happened to John Amores and scores of others who went under the radar.
That shouldn’t be the case. There should be a recognized authority per region that represents the SBP and governs the sport and not this present setup where there are different kings in the same pond.
Will the Amores incident change that? No. The fact that there have been so many similar incidents post-pandemic shared on social media but just didn’t have the same traction as the Amores incident is proof of that.