Monday, November 28, 2011


(This article appears in the Nov. 30, 2011 edition of Manila Mail, the longest running Fil-Am newspaper in the Metro DC region)

A full-blown melee has erupted between what is reputedly the biggest Filipino-American basketball league and members of a local hoops association that is hosting the championship in Washington DC next year.

The North American Basketball Association (NABA) has threatened to expel anyone playing for “Team Philippines” – a newly-formed group that aims to recruit young but talented Fil-Ams for international tournaments playing under the Philippine flag.

Russell Casapao, president of the DC-based Filipino Youth Basketball Association (FYBA), pitched for the establishment of “Team Philippines” reportedly without the knowledge of his board. But after the controversy broke-out, the FYBA members have come out to assail the threatened expulsions.

“The unity and harmonious relationship enjoyed by NABA members for the past 24 years has been challenged by the introduction of a new group, they call themselves Team Philippines,” Detroit-based NABA Commissioner Dr. Ron Damasco wrote in a letter to members posted in its website last month.

“The idea caused some confusion to some basketball players of NABA that started joining (Team Philippines). Their actions jeopardize the preparations of Washington DC franchise as host for the 2012 NABA tournament.

“I don’t have any other alternative but to enforce a directive to all NABA members that any city, team, player and coach that will join Team Philippines and any league other than NABA will be dealt accordingly with possible suspension or most likely expulsion,” Damasco warned.

In a letter by “The FYBA Organization” they announced that they will ask Dr. Damasco to reconsider his directive. “We are doing this to protect our players, coaches and more importantly the parents, to clear any misconception and confusion brought about by the establishment of Team Philippines and its impact to FYBA’s hosting of the 2012 NABA Inter-City tournament.”

The nucleus of “Team Philippines” reportedly come from the Metro DC region but also come from as far away as Florida.

The NABA has been holding yearly tournaments since 1986. The championships are held during the Labor Day weekend in either the US or Canada. With close to 2 dozen member cities from North America with 115 teams and over 1,700 athletes, the NABA tournament is perhaps the biggest Fil-Am sports event.

The FYBA is celebrating its 5th year (and NABA’s 25th anniversary) by hosting the Labor Day championship in Washington DC next year. That could be in jeopardy because many of the sponsors for next year’s tournament are parents of Fil-Am children in “Team Philippines”.

In a follow-up letter Nov. 18, Dr. Damasco said that “A member joining Team Philippines is not only committing conflict of interest but he is also at risk of developing a feeling of dejection, sadness and misery that could lead to his losing interest in basketball if in the end he is selected as member of Team Philippines.”

In a petition by about 40 parents of kids who’ve joined Team Philippines, they countered that “We believe that no child should be denied a chance to join any basketball organization and participate in their respective tournaments.”

“Parent should be able to freely exercise their right to choose whatever sports organization they believe will offer the best sports experience for their child. Whether it is Team Philippines, AAU or any school-sponsored sports program, the right to participate should be open to all who are qualified,” they stressed.

“Denying a child to play in an organization designed to promote pride in their heritage and to establish camaraderie among their fellow Filipino-American and Filipino-Canadian players across the nation and internationally is simply wrong and we will do everything within our power to correct this injustice,” the parents declared.

The Manila Mail learned that some are already contemplating a discrimination suit against NABA, threatening to blow the controversy even wider.

Meanwhile, they are also incensed that some ranking FYBA officers have refused or are unwilling to take the cudgels for their children. They are especially critical of Casapao whom Manila Mail sources say face his own “expulsion” by being pressured out of his presidency.

The group supporting Team Philippines has already met with NABA’s executive adviser Larry Albano in New York to apologize for the confusion arising from the group’s sudden appearance. “It is our hope that we can find and agree on a resolution that is fair to the players and their family who are currently supporting both organizations,” they reported.

But this attempt to mend fences apparently fell on deaf ears after Dr. Damasco issued his expulsion threat. “NABA is a self-governing, self-reliant and self-supporting association whose primary concern is the well being of every member,” he stressed.

1 comment:

  1. hello! can you give me the link to this article in the Manil Mail? I tried searching it there and couldn't find it. Salamat!