THE basketball world is in mourning following the sudden death of FIBA secretary-general Patrick Baumann.
According to the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), Baumann, a native of Basel, Switzerland, suffered a heart attack while in Buenos Aires, Argentina supervising the competition in the Youth Olympic Games.
Baumann, also a member of the International Olympic Committee, was 51.
“It is with great sadness that I share the tragic news of the sudden death of FIBA secretary-general Patrick Baumann in Buenos Aires, Argentina during the Youth Olympic Games,” said SBP president Al Panlilio in a statement on Sunday.
Panlilio recalled meeting with Baumann the last time during the inaugural FIBA World Basketball Summit in China just two weeks ago.
The SBP prexy described the FIBA executive as ‘full of life.’
“He shared his vision in how to make basketball the biggest sport globally,” said Panlilio. “He is a big loss to the basketball community. I offer my deepest condolences to the family.
Twice, Baumann played a pivotal role in lifting the suspension meted by FIBA to the country.
He first came over here in 2001 as FIBA deputy secretary general to oversee the leader dispute between the two factions of the Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) – one under Tiny Literal and Graham Lim and the other led by the late Lito Puyat and Freddie Jalasco.
But it was during the second suspension in 2005 that Baumann really help the country put Philippine basketball in proper perspective as FIBA secretary-general, the long and tedious process to resolve the leadership problem paving the way for the birth of the SBP under president Manny V. Pangilinan.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) also send its condolences to the family of the late basketball official as Baumann is likewise a member of the Olympic body.
“This is a great shock which has hit us all very hard. We can hardly believe this terrible news, particularly since even today, we have seen him working hard as we always knew him for the sport he loved,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.
“We lose a young and sympathetic leader full of hope who was standing for the future of sport. Our thoughts with his wife, his children, and his family.”
Bach has already ordered that the Olympic flag be flown at half-mast at the IOC headquarters and at the YOG for the next three days. A memorial will also be held in the Youth Olympic Village.
Baumann has been an IOC member since 2007.
He was a former player, coach, and referee who was unanimously appointed as secretary-general by the FIBA Central Board in 2002.