Politics in Manila reared its ugly head yet again as the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) finally scrapped basketball from the official sports list in this month's staging of the 23rd Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) in the Philippines.

The controversy-ridden Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) has been suspended from the roster of accredited sports bodies under POC for reasons (1) BAP failed to honor its commitment with the POC in the formation of a national basketball team from major leagues to compete in international competitons, and; (2) the BAP chair (along with some basketball players) was found to be a non-Filipino, which is unconstitutional.

Officials of both sports bodies have been at odds for months and the stand off has hurt the participation of national players in basketball games overseas including the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (SEABA) Championship in Malaysia. The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) is poised to suspend BAP, as recommended by POC, and prevent the Philippines from fielding a national team in any international game. Because of this, Filipinos will be deprived of a basketball team in this year's SEAG where the Philippines consistently dominate and reap gold for years.

Sad, really. Politicians are spoiling the very passion and pastime of every common Filipino. Basketball is a national Philippine sport as soccer is in Brazil. Sure, Filipino players are not as tall as the Chinese; not as disciplined as the Japanese; not as superstar-like as Americans, but the display of skill and heart to play is always there. So much so that Filipinos revere basketball players, raising them up on pedestals as heroes, idols, and even Gods (and elect into politics — ah, the irony!).

Basketball championship in SEAG may yield only one gold, but if history will repeat itself this year as in 1991 when the Philippines lost overall SEAG championship to Indonesia by a mere gold, these politicians embroiled in the suspension of basketball will reckon the nation's wrath of political disenchantment and disgust.

No basketball in SEAG? What an injustice! Blow the whistle and call 'Foul!'

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