Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The new FIBA competition format has its own set of challenges

The new FIBA competition format has its own set of challenges
by rick olivares

Over the past several days, two articles made the rounds. One about the Hellenic Basketball Federation, the governing body for hoops in Greece, accusing the Milwaukee Bucks and the National Basketball Association from preventing Giannis Antetokounmpo from participating in the upcoming European championships.

Around the same time, there was a piece titled, “Red, White, and Who?” that was about the United States Men’s National Basketball Team missing its battalion of NBA stars and instead will line up players who weren’t good enough to make the league; who toil in smaller leagues if not abroad.

The article quoted USA Basketball’s Sean Ford as saying, “It’s going to be really interesting. We don’t know. We’re flying blind a little bit.”

Even a look at the rosters of the recently-concluded FIBA Asia Cup, teams like Australia, New Zealand, and even the Philippines to a certain extent were missing many players. When FIBA announced its new competition format last year, it was met with opposition from the Euroleague as it clearly overlapped into the tournament proper. It is also clear that FIBA is trying to force the issue and pick a fight with the European League by forming its own league with threats of banning national teams from FIBA events if they do not comply.

The Philippine Basketball Association clubs aren’t spared of that criticism. Is the pursuit of a PBA championship or grand slam bigger than the national cause?

There are chicken and egg theories or even arguments. That it is the club that pays for all the training and upkeep. That it is the pro loop that has made basketball what it is. That plans for teams and pursuits for titles are strategized over a period of time. It is so easy to accuse a club of being selfish. However, if you look at it from the other side, they are spending a huge amount of money for their respective clubs’ upkeep. Are they getting any form of compensation from federations much less FIBA?

On the other hand, international basketball competitions have also improved the game if not become a source of national pride. The Olympics or even world titles are prized and valued. One can say that he is indeed the best in the entire planet.

FIBA took its cue from FIFA where there are international breaks for national team competition and of course, they want more money. On the other hand, for decades, the professional basketball leagues across the world were played at the old format without interruption. The new format greatly disrupts campaigns.

Unlike in football where generally matches are played once a week, in basketball, the matches can be as many as three times or four times in a week. The changes in time zones will disrupt body rhythms and could possibly affect players for a game or even two. So that could be as few as five matches or as much as six. And there is the never-ending concern about injuries. Unlike football teams that have as many as 24 players in a squad, pro cage squads list only 12.

You can imagine changes in roster depth will bloat expenditures and operational expenses.

I can appreciate both sides. However, isn’t the cage body supposed to serve the members? I don’t see why the old format doesn’t work anymore. Both sides should have worked to find that happy middle ground.

Yet the new format is here.

Ford is right. How the next few months play out will be plenty interesting.

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