‘Basketball imperialism’ and the country’s Olympic bid

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Conrad M. Cariño

Conrad M. Cariño

SO two of the country’s boxers sent to the Rio Olympics exited the competition early. So what else is new?

And how many years did the country have to prepare the boxing contingent for Rio? Six years from the Beijing Olympics where the country also went zero in the medal tally and where the boxers also made early exits. So what else was new then?

You do not have to be an expert to say that the country’s amateur boxers need more financial support to make a successful medal bid in the Olympics. And given that the country has produced outstanding boxing champions in the professional arena, I see no reason why Filipinos cannot win more Olympic medals from boxing.

Meanwhile, in the six years after the Beijing Olympics, the basketball community poured in a lot of effort and resources, and generated a lot of hype to make the country believe a Filipino cage squad had a chance at the Games. But the country winning a gold in Olympic basketball was out of the question because the US “Dream Team” will always remain unbeatable (unless the Philippine team will be made up of second-tier NBA stars).


Before I proceed, let me make it clear I have nothing against the Philippines assembling a cage squad that could at least make it to the top five of the Olympics. Filipinos have actually gone mad over basketball and it is already part of the country’s culture. And there lies the problem – because of our strong colonial past, the country has become so madly attached to many things that are not endemic to the country, like basketball that is an American game.

In the meantime, sports where the country can excel like boxing, taekwondo and weightlifting are getting very little support compared to basketball. How much monetary support our amateur boxers bound for the Olympics gotten so far? I bet you it would be miniscule compared to the amount spent by the Gilas Pilipinas for its various “tune up” games abroad.

I even find it disgusting that only two Filipino pugs were sent to the Olympics when the country could actually participate in six divisions: light flyweight, 108 pounds (49 kilorgrams); flyweight, 115 pounds (52 kg); bantamweight, 123 pounds (56 kg); lightweight, 132 pounds (60 kg); light welterweight, 141 pounds (64 kg); and welterweight, 152 pounds (69 kg).

Only a dummy will tell you it would be hard to find boxers to participate in the six Olympic divisions if the country’s amateur boxing program gets enough funding and support in a span of six years. And having Filipino boxers participate in six of the 10 weight divisions of Olympic boxing means the country has six chances of winning a bronze, silver or gold.

Now, how does that compare to grooming a cage squad with 12 members that has a very little chance of snaring a lone Olympic silver or gold? Or even bronze? Please let’s stop dreaming and hyping the impossible because the Philippines can never win a gold or silver in Olympic basketball, or even a bronze. Also, even if the Filipino cage squad ends up showing it has “puso” or the heart to fight despite the odds (which are actually enormous), the effort is still a waste of money if no Olympic medal could be gained in the near term (which in this case is the Rio Olympics).

Anyway, from my standpoint, the “underfunded” athletes who worked very hard to secure an Olympic slot and compete in the face of daunting odds should also be credited for having the heart to fight. And that includes Hidilyn Diaz, who won the silver in the 53-kg women’s weightlifting event, ending a 20-year medal drought. She admitted she almost quit the sport but plowed on. Now that’s heart!

There will surely be quarters who will point to basketball’s impressive institutional structures in the country as the reason why it attracts generous funding and support from the private sector. That greatly assures that all funds funneled for the country’s cage squad are well spent. Well, that is great!

But don’t tell me it is completely impossible for a rich patron or big company to fund promising boxers for the Olympics in the form of supplements, equipment, gyms and even training. I mean, maybe big companies or rich patrons can directly pay people like Nonito Donaire Sr. (the father of Nonito the boxer) to train the country’s amateur boxers for the Olympics. The same can also be done for athletes excelling in weightlifting, taekwondo and what have you. Just imagine if Diaz had a big company or two bankrolling her training needs? Don’t tell me that cannot be done.

Or is the Philippines forever afflicted with “basketball imperialism?”

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3 Comments

  1. Juan Dela Cruz on

    I found this article an INSULT to anyone who sacrificed anything just to get to the Olympics and even win medals. It’s like pleading Pinoy professional basketball players dreaming of making it to the Olympics to should give up basketball and focus on other sports that they cannot be excelled in. While we rather wanted RP Olympic Team to win the First Gold Medal, the phrase “Basketball Imperialism” is uncalled for! We should consider the sacrifices have gone through by MVP to make it a superior basketball republic again. If you want medals sir, big private sectors should follow the example of the Chairman of Smart Communications. Look at Hidalyn Diaz! She sacrificed anything (4 years of grinding in weightlifting, without any IFS or BUTS), and she now has a Silver in Rio.

  2. Emelito Bagang on

    It is a common knowledge that basketball is not for us in terms of competition. It is not enough that you’ve the heart and passion. Many have it but you need extra-ordinary qualities, unfortunately we dont have much.

  3. Totally agree. The Philippine should concentrate on sports where height is not an advantage. We will never win in sports like basketball, swimming, track and field, etc. but we can in boxing, judo, taekwondo, weightlifting, shooting and archery. Forget all others and concentrate on those we have a chance.