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Philippine Basketball
#14
filipinos lack height, but we love the game more than anybody else. Smile

businessmirror.com link

Quote:Pinoys in basketball: The genes count

Science

Written by Rizal Raoul Reyes / Correspondent

Saturday, 05 June 2010 18:01

The excitement of Filipino basketball fanatics is at fever pitch again what with the current US National Basketball Association (NBA) championship games between Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. Office employees are abuzz with talk on wagers. Even anchors in radio-news programs root for their favorite team.

A similar atmosphere also hit the nation during the local Philippine Basketball Association championships.

Basketball, the game invented by Canadian physical education instructor Dr. James Naismith in 1861, is one of the greatest legacies of American colonialism to the Philippines. Filipinos go gaga over basketball despite the numerous debacles experienced by Philippine teams in several international competitions.

However, the Philippines had also its golden moments in basketball. The most prominent were the fifth-place finish in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and the third-place finish in the 1954 World Basketball Championship (now known as the International Basketball Federation or Fiba world championships) in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

The 1936 Philippine Olympic basketball team, then widely known as the Islanders, was mentored by Dionisio Calvo. The players were Charles Borck, Jacinto “Jumping Jack” Ciria Cruz, Franco Marquicias, Primitivo Martinez, Jesus Marzan, Amador Obordo, Cebu basketball legend Bibiano Ouano, future senator Ambrosio Padilla and Fortunato Yambao. John Worell was also listed but was unable to play a single basketball match.

The Filipino cagers won the hearts of the spectators for their never-say-die attitude and the sportsmanship on and off the court, according to a Philippine magazine, which chronicled the exploits of the Olympians.

In 1954, the Philippines achieved the highest finish for an Asian country in the Fiba World basketball tournaments by placing third behind the United States and host Brazil.

Coached by the famous Herminio Silva, the legendary team was composed of Carlos Loyzaga, Lauro Mumar, Mariano Tolentino, Florentino Bautista, Antonio Genato, Ponciano Saldaña, Rafael Barredo, Benjamin Francisco, Francisco Rabat, Bayani Amador, Ramon Manulat and Napoleon Flores.

Francis Wilson and Fred Sagarbarria were the alternates in the team that had an average age of 23 years and about 6 feet in height, puny compared to the Americans, Brazilians and the Europeans.

Despite his short ceiling compared to other players, Loyzaga, the “King Lion” of San Beda and the Philippines’ greatest basketeer, finished as one of the tournament’s leading scorer with 16.4 points-per-game average and was named in the tournament’s All-Star selection.

Loyzaga was also a member of the victorious Philippine teams in the 1951, 1954, 1958 and 1962 Asian Games, as well as in the 1960 and 1963 Asian championships.

The post-Loyzaga era

After Loyzaga and company retired, the Philippines consistently suffered reversals in international competitions. On the Asian level, the last time the Philippines became champion was in 1962.

For Dr. Perry Ong, professor and director of the Institute of Biology, College of Science at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, the reason was simple. “When we hit the wall, we will not grow and we’re not going to become a champion,” said Ong in an interview with the BusinessMirror at UP Diliman.

“It dooms our ambition to become a competitive player in international basketball,” he said.

Although the Philippines has produced taller players compared to Loyzaga and his contemporaries, other countries produced much taller players than the Philippines.

One example is China. If the Philippines was able to produce skyscrapers, such as Bonnel Balingit, Marlou Aquino and Edward Joseph Fiehl, China managed to produce taller if not better players in Wang Zhi Zhi, Yi Jianlian and Yao Ming, the tallest among the group at 7 ft. 5 (2.286 meters). All three have played in the NBA. So far, no Filipino player has made it to the NBA.

The height problem becomes more complicated when Filipinos are compared with Americans and the Europeans. Even if the country has produced players standing 6 ft. 6, they have to play center, while their foreign counterparts just play guard or forward. Just think of Argentinean Manu Ginobili, who at 6 ft 7 can drive court-to-court with ease.

To offset the shortage in height, Ong said the Philippines has resorted to recruiting from overseas Filipinos with foreign lineage such as the Filipino-Americans who are taller and better built as a result of the abundance of food, protein and other nutritional elements.

However, the country has still fallen short of the expectations.

According to Ong, things perhaps will change in the future when some people will alter the rules of basketball to help Filipinos and other vertically challenged people.

“For instance, if the future game will require the players to race to a 12-inch pipe long with 2.5 meters in diameter, naturally the smaller players will have an advantage because they will have an easier time crossing the pipe,” said Ong.

If this is going to be the rule of the game, Ong said the selection pressure will be on the short people because they’re the best qualified for the game.

At present, the selection pressure is on tall people standing six feet above because basketball is a game of height.

Interestingly, the development of a selection pressure is also affected by genes and nutrition. Having genes for tall height and proper nutrition, the Caucasians have taller and superior players.

Interestingly, Ong said Filipino players who have dominated Philippine basketball, such as Loyzaga, Borck, Mumar, Campos, Genato, Kurt Bachmann, Ramon Fernandez and Robert Jaworski, among others, have foreign blood.

“The facts speak for themselves. During the 1950s when we won the bronze, our main player, Loyzaga, was obviously of European origin. Since then, we failed to win any championships,” he said.

At the end of the day, Ong said the Filipinos must realize they have reached the maximum of their height potential.

“The genes carry both the potential of human beings to become what they want to be and the limitation on what humans cannot do,” said Ong.

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[Image: science01.jpg]

In Photo: Carlos Loyzaga, called the “King Lion” of San Beda, is considered one of the best, if not the best, Filipino basketeer.
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Messages In This Thread
Philippine Basketball - by thadzonline - 06-30-2008, 03:49 PM
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