FIL-FOREIGN players Chris Newsome and Chris Banchero have lost the opportunity to play for the Philippine team bound for the Southeast Asian Games after Myanmar organizers decided to enforce a Fiba eligibility rule for the basketball competitions.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Sonny Barrios admitted they were surprised to get a memorandum from the Myanmar organizing committee saying it has enforced a Fiba rule requiring foreign-born players to be holders of passports at the age of 16 years.
National coach Jong Uichico confirmed the move has closed the SEA Games door on both Newsome and Banchero, who were both named to the pool from where the Philippine team bound for Myanmar will be picked.
“Nagulat nga kami kasi biglang naging strict ang ruling nila. Fiba internal regulations daw ang gagamitin,” said Barrios, who added that Philippine officials have thwarted efforts in the past to enforce the same Fiba ruling for the SEA Games.
“Actually nagsimula silang maging mainit sa atin nuon pang 2011 SEA Games, matatandaan niyo nung ayaw nilang palaruin sina Clifford Hodge at Chris Ellis,” he said.
“Kaso that time, naipaglaban namin na hindi naman Fiba rules ang ina-apply sa SEA Games, ngayon siguro nakumbinse ang Myanmar na ganun ang gawin,” the amiable basketball official said.
Barrios declared that the new rules on elibigility have already been circulated in a memo to all SEA Games member countries.
“Naka-black and white na yun. Confirmed na yun,” he said. “We have no other choice.”
The decision has prompted Uichico to make changes in his pool after initially drafting a list that included both Newsome and Banchero.
“Wala. I am forced to scratch them out. Sinabihan ako ng SBP na may bago nga daw ruling. Wala tayong magagawa,” Uichico said.
The Philippines has been a force in SEA Games men’s basketball, where the country only lost the crown once in 16 editions.
“Yun siguro ang isang dahilan kaya naghigpit sila sa basketball. Akala nila sa Fil-foreign tayo umaasa. Akala siguro nila pagnawala mga Fil-foreign natin, maitutumba nila tayo,” Barrios said in between laughter.
“Di bale, 'wag kayong mag-aalala. Kaya pa rin natin silang daigin sa basketbol."
Barrios said the new ruling may most likely be implemented in future editions of the Games.
“Hindi ko alam kung permanente na yan. Pero malamang… Ganun na nga.”