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Henry Liao

  1. FIBA Hall of Fame (3)

    To local basketball fans, he may not ring a bell. But in the international stage, Dionisio (Chito) Calvo stood tall.

    The late Calvo is lone Filipino who is enshrined in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Hall of Fame.

    Calvo was among the first batch of 43 personages to be inducted into the FIBA Hall in March 2007.

    Calvo was one of the 24 posthumous inductees under the ?contributors? category.

    Calvo was the head coach of the Philippine Olympic team that ranked fifth during the 1936 Berlin Games. The games marked the first time that basketball competitions were held. The fifth-place finish remains the highest ranking by an Asian country in Olympic men?s basketball history.
    Calvo also piloted the PH national team to 12th place in the 1948 London Olympics.

    Likewise, he mentored the Filipinos to the men?s basketball gold during the inaugural Asian Games in New Delhi, India in 1951.

    As an organizer, Calvo initiated the formation of the Asian Basketball Confederation in 1960. The ABC has since been renamed as the FIBA Asia Championship.

    According to the official FIBA book ?The Basketball World,? the idea of putting up the ABC was first brought up in 1958 in Tokyo by basketball leaders from various Asian countries competing in the Third Asian Games, a multi-sport quadrennial event that included basketball.

    An urgent need was felt to set up a regional controlling body for basketball in Asia and a temporary committee under the chairmanship of Calvo was constituted to look into this possibility.

    Through the efforts of Calvo, the first Asian Conference and Basketball Championship for Men was initiated in January 1960 in Manila.

    Seven nations ? Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Malaya (now Malaysia) and the Philippines ? saw action in the tournament.

    Along with Pakistan, they also attended the Conference at which the draft constitution of the ABC was adopted and the participating countries admitted as members.

    Call it homecourt advantage, the Philippines romped away with the first ABC title in 1960, winning all of its nine assignments.

    Carlos Badion was named the tournament?s Most Valuable Player.

    The ABC was not officially founded until the second Asian Conference and Basketball Championship for Men was stage in Taipei in November 1963.

    Attended by representatives from nine countries, the ABA constitution and bylaws were ratified during the gathering. Officials such as then-Philippine Senator Ambrosio Padilla, president, and Calvo, secretary general, were elected to lead the organization.

    The Conference additionally resolved to hold men?s championships biennially, while avoiding the even-numbered years wherein the Summer Olympic Games and Asian Games were staged.

    In the local basketball scene, Calvo also organized the post-graduate Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA) league in 1938.

    The MICAA, of course, was the precursor of the professional Philippine Basketball Association PBA).

    A side note: The late Gonzalo (Lito) Puyat II was once a candidate for the FIBA Hall of fame but the former two-term FIBA president (1976-84) failed to make the grade.
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  2. 2015 FIBA Asia Under-16 Championship: PH Battles Japan in Quarters

    Time was when youth basketball was served only for youngbloods age 18 and below.

    The Asian Youth Basketball Championship was established in 1970 with Seoul, Korea as the site of the debuting competitions for players no older than 18 years.

    The Philippines topped the inaugurals that featured seven countries – India, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan (Chinese-Taipei) and host South Korea. The Filipinos crushed the Japanese, 126-94, in the finals.

    Among the youngsters on the trailblazing team mentored by Ignacio (Ning) Ramos were skipper William (Bogs) Adornado, Ricardo (Joy) Cleofas, Ernesto (Estoy) Estrada (+), Rosalio (Yoyong) Martirez, Marte Samson, Manuel (Manny) Paner, Johnny Revilla, Jesse Sullano, Eusebio Adolfo, Jesus San Diego, Olympio Santos and Rodolfo (Rudy) Soriano.

    Two years later on home soil, the Philippines retained the Asian Youth crown again marched to an unblemished slate following a 96-62 shellacking of Taiwan in the championship game. That 12-man Filipino unit, which was coached by Felicisimo (Fely) Fajardo, was star-studded with future professional Hall of Famers Fortunato (Atoy) Co Jr., Philip Cezar and Ramon Fernandez and other players like Rodolfo (Rudy) Segura, Miguel (Mike) Bilbao, Gregorio (Joy) Dionisio (the man who scored the first field goal and first two points in Philippine Basketball Association history), Rey Franco, Quirino Salazar, Jaime (Jimmy) Noblezada, Edgardo Carvajal, Marcelino Diputado and Norberto Rivera.

    Back then, there were alleged “overage” issues against the Filipino players but nothing was substantiated as their personal documents appeared to be legitimate.

    The Philippines continued to dominate the Asia Youth competitions for more than a decade. Our boys romped way with the championship in six of the first seven editions – 1970, 1972, 1974 (Manila), 1977 (Kuwait), 1978 (Manila) and 1982 (Manila) with then-emerging power People’s Republic of China triumphing in 1980 in Bangkok, Thailand with a 94-84 victory over the Filipinos in the finals. That loss halted the Filipinos’ stunning 48-game winning streak in the Asia Youth tournament.

    Soon thereafter, China also caught up with the Philippines at the Youth level and the Chinese continue to be a dominant power in that category until now.

    Since 1982, the Philippines has not won the Asian Youth Championship for players age 18 and under. That squad featured Joseph (Jong) Uichico, Ludovico Valenciano, Luis Brill, Alfred (Alfie) Almario (+), Jose (Tonichi) Yturri , Richard Mendoza, Elmer Reyes, Leovino (Leo) Austria, Hector Calma, Frederic (Derek) Pumaren, Leoncio Tan, John Copada, Reynaldo Cuenco (+) and Teodocio Alfarero.

    At the turn of the century, youth basketball was further bolstered with competitions in the various age groups being held at the Asian and World levels.

    Moreover, the FIBA has even come up with a three-on-three tournament in recent years. What was once simply a streetball side attraction or a promotional stunt has now been elevated to” official” status by the world basketball-governing body.

    Now you have local and international tournaments in the age groups 11-and-under, 12-and-under, 13-and-under, 14-and-under, 15-and-under, 16-and-under and 17-and-under.

    Indeed, the sport of basketball is becoming a favorite pastime for athletes from the younger generation.
    Currently, there’s the FIBA Asia Under-16 Championship in Jakarta, Indonesia – the continental qualifying tournament to the 2016 FIBA Under-17 World Championship.

    Following the 11th-hour withdrawal of North Korea, only 15 countries were left to contest the biennial Under-16 conclave. Team were divided into four groups of four each in preliminary play, with the exception of Group C, where the Philippines was bracketed with only Bahrain and Thailand in the fold after the North Sokors backed out.

    Group last-placers Hong Kong, Bangladesh and India fell by the wayside early and four others – Indonesia, Malaysia, Iraq and Bahrain – were eliminated after the second-round group action.

    Chinese-Taipei, the only unbeaten team in the tournament with a 6-0 overall record (including the win over Bangladesh, whose result was not carried over into the second phase), topped Group E in the second round at 5-0 and advanced to the knockout quarterfinals, together with Lebanon (4-1), Japan (3-2) and Kuwait (2-3).

    Defending champion China, the Philippines and South Korea registered identical records of 4-1 in Group F but the Chinese grabbed the top spot with the best quotient in the tie-breaker with plus 20. (The Mainlanders whipped the Koreans, 91-65, in first-round play but lost to the Michael Oliver-coached Filipinos, 78-72, in the second round for their first setback ...
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  3. 2015 FIBA Asia Wrap-up: China Punches Ticket to 2016 Rio Olympics

    In beating the Philippines, 78-67, in the finals of the 28th FIBA Asia Men’s Basketball Championship in Changsa, Hunan province in the People’s Republic of China, the perennial continental power became the ninth country to punch an automatic ticket to the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from August 5-21 next year.

    The previous eight are host Brazil, reigning FIBA Basketball World Cup champion United States, Oceania winner Australia, AfroBasket winner Nigeria, Americas champion Argentina and runner-up Venezuela and EuroBasket winner Spain and second-placer Lithuania.

    Back-to-back FIBA Asia silver medalist Philippines, third-place Islamic Republic of Iran (the 2013 FIBA Asia titlist) and fourth-place Japan will be invited to the special final Olympic qualifying tournaments slated for July 5-11 next year in three still-to-be-determined sites.

    The Iranians, who were dethroned by China, 70-57, in the semifinals, clinched the bronze medal with a 68-63 decision over Japan, which also was defeated by the Philippines, 81-70, for the second time in the tournament during the Final Four.

    China finished the biennial 16-team competitions with a lily-white 9-0 win-loss record. The Philippines dropped its opening assignment against Palestine (which failed to land in the Elite Eight quarterfinals with three setbacks in the second round), 75-73, and against China in the finals to register a 7-2 record.

    Third-place Iran also wound up with a 7-2 mark, including an 87-73 shellacking from the Filipinos. Fourth-ranked Japan lost to Iran (including an 86-48 rout in the second round) and the Philippines (including a 73-66 reversal during the second round) twice each for a 5-4 ledger.

    The final ranking of the other team is as follows: 5-Lebanon, 6-South Korea (the 2013 FIBA Asia bronze medalist), 7-Qatar, 8-India, 9-Jordan (mentored by former PH national team coach Rajko Toroman), 10-Palestine, 11-Kazakhstan, 12-Hong Kong, 13-Chinese Taipei (the 2013 FIBA Asia fourth-placer), 14-Kuwait, 15-Singapore and 16-Malaysia (the only winless team at 0-5 under Filipino coach Paul Advincula).

    For the second time in three editions, former National Basketball Association veteran Yi Jianlian was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player as the 27-year-old Chinese posted averages of 16.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 blocked shots in nine outings, including an 11-point, 15-rebound, 2-block performance against the Philippines in the finals.

    In 2011, the 7-foot Yi also earned tournament MVP honors after powering China to a 70-69 victory over Jordan (which was then coached by current PH bench boss Tab Baldwin) in the gold-medal duel held in Wuhan, China.

    Joining Yi on the 2015 FIBA Asia All-Tournament Team were our own Jayson Castro William (who got the nod at point guard for the second time in a row), guard Guo Ailun and 19-year-old center Zhou Qi of China and Iran team skipper Samad Nikkhah Bahrami (who netted 35 points in the third-place contest against Japan).

    For Team Pilipinas, naturalized frontliner and NBA alum Andray Blatche was tops in scoring (17.8 ppg), rebounding (9.2 rpg) and shot blocks (1.1 bpg). Castro William (16.7 ppg) and Terrence Romeo (12.2 ppg) were the only other Filipino with twin-digit averages.

    Energetic Calvin Abueva contributed 8.9 ppg and 6.2 rpg and Ranidel De Ocampo normed 8.2 ppg and 5.4 rpg. Team captain Dondon Hontiveros hit at a 6.8-point clip while Gabe Norwood normed 3.4 scores, 3.7 boards and a team-best 1.6 steals an outing (edging Blatche, who had 1.4 spg, for leadership).

    Joining the Philippines, Iran and Japan in the special final Olympic qualifying tournaments in three still-to-be-determined sites are Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, France, Serbia, Greece, Italy, the Czech Republic, Angola, Tunisia and Senegal.

    Question is if the Philippines will be accepting the invitation to take part in the special qualifying tournament or simply give up the opportunity.
  4. 2015 FIBA Asia Championship: The "real" games begin

    The “real” games in the 28th FIBA Asia Men’s Basketball Championship in Changsa, Hunan province in the People’s Republic of China begin with the single-elimination stages to be held in there consecutive days beginning with tomorrow's quarterfinal round.
    Matchups in the Elite Eight of the 16-team biennial competitions are as follows: defending titlist Islamic Republic of Iran vs. South Korea (2:30 pm), Qatar vs. Japan (4:45 pm), China vs. India (7:30 pm) and our beloved Philippines vs. Lebanon (9:30 pm).
    Classification games for ninth to 12th places (also with a knockout format) feature Jordan vs. Hong Kong (9:30 am) and Palestine vs. Kazakhstan (11:45 am).
    In the semifinals on October 2, the Philippines-Lebanon winner will take on the Qatar-Japan winner and the China-India winner will tangle with the Iran-South Korea winner.
    All Final Four participants are assured of either making it to the 2016 Summer Olympics outright or at least qualifying for the special final Olympic qualifying tournaments next year.
    The semifinal survivors clash in the finals on October 3 with the winner earning the lone automatic berth to the 12-team Olympic men’s basketball cast in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil next year. The third-place game precedes the titular duel on the same day.
    The second-, third- and fourth-placers in the FIBA Asia festivities will be eligible to participate in the three special Olympic qualifying tournaments to be held July 4-10 next year. At stake there are three wildcard berths.
    Note that the Philippines appears to have a clearer, if not easier, path to the FIBA Asia crown. Rookie mentor Tab Baldwin’s troops may not get to taste the Korean kimchi until the finals, if ever, and will be glad to partake again the Japanese sushi in the semifinals, if ever, having beaten Japan, 73-66, in second-round action.
    Rookie coach Tab Baldwin’s troops need to beat Lebanon in the quarters and then, most likely, Qatar in the semis to advance to the title game.
    In contrast, the Iranians, the winners in three of the past four editions of the FIBA Asia Championship, will have to defeat South Korea in the quarters (meaning one of the perceived gold-medal contenders will be out of contention that early) and then, quite surely, China in the semis (meaning another title favorite will bite the dust by the time).
    If the Filipinos play their cards right, and granting naturalized player and former National Basketball Association veteran Andray Blatche gets a nice rest today and has fully recovered from the ankle injury he sustained against Japan last Sunday and continued to hobbled and slowed down by it against Iran and India on Monday and Tuesday, they could reach the finals for the second consecutive time, perhaps against China or Iran for a second time in the tournament.
    In 2013 in Manila, our boys fell to Iran in the finals but earned a ticket to the FIBA Basketball World Cup the following year as the 6-11 former Washington Wizard and Brooklyn Net made his debut with the Philippine national team.
    During the second round of the tournament, the Philippines topped Group E with a 4-1 win-loss record, followed by 2-Iran (4-1), 3-Japan (3-2), 4-India (2-3), 5-Palestine (2-3) and 6-Hong Kong (0-5).
    On the other hand, China paced Group F at 5-0, followed by 2-Qatar (3-2), 3-South Korea (3-2), 4-Lebanon (2-3), 5-Jordan (2-3) and 6-Kazakhstan (0-5).
    Only the top four finishers in each group qualified for the quarterfinal round. Beneficiaries under the winner-over-the-rule provision for breaking deadlocks are the Philippines, which blasted Iran, 87-73; India, which downed Palestine 73-70; Qatar, which whipped South Korea, 69-63; and Lebanon, which defeated Jordan, 80-76; All four secured a higher seeding with second-round victories over their rivals.
    Entering the quarterfinals, host China is the lone unblemished team in the tournament with a 6-0 record overall (including a 91-42 shellacking of fourth-place Singapore in the first-round Group C; whose result was not carried over into the second round).
    The Philippines and Iran own identical 5-1 marks. Our boys were upset by Palestine, 75-73, during the opening playdate of the tournament.
    The luck of the draw has gone to the Philippines so far. It’s up for Jayson Castro William, Terrence Romeo, Calvin Abueva and Blatche – the top Filipino performers so far – and their teammates to translate this advantage into actual victories.

    Team Pilipinas, the ball is in your court.
  5. From ABC to FIBA Asia Championship

    Next week’s FIBA Asia Men’s Basketball Championship in Changsa-Hunan, People’s Republic of China is the 28th of its kind.

    However, the biennial tournament was known by a different name during its inaugural competitions in 1960 when the Philippines played host for the first time.

    Until 2005, it was called the Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC) tournament.

    Like before, it also was held biennially during odd-numbered years and served as the qualifying tournament for the Summer Olympics and FIBA Basketball World Cup (which until 2014 was known as the World Basketball Championship).

    Credit a Filipino, Dionisio (Chito) Calvo, for the formation of the ABC in the late fifties.

    Known as the “Father of Philippine Basketball,,” Calvo was a member of the Philippine national team that won the 1925 Far Eastern Games (the harbinger of the Asian Games) in Manila. He subsequently became the head coach of the first two PH Olympic squads that ranked fifth – the highest-ever finish by an Asian country until now – during the 1936 Berlin Games and 12th during the 1948 London Games.

    Calvo would later become an organizer. He set up the Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA) in 1938. The semi-professional league lasted until the establishment of the Philippine Basketball Association – Asia’s first pro basketball league – in 1975.

    The idea of putting up the Asian Basketball Confederation was initially brought up in August 1958 in a Tokyo hotel coffee shop by six basketball officials from various Asian countries that competed in the 3rd Asian Games held in the Japanese capital.

    While basketball was part of the Asian Games calendar, Calvo and company were concerned that it had been relegated to a minor sport.

    Thus saw the birth of the ABC, the predecessor of the FIBA Asia Championship.

    Through the efforts of Calvo, the first ABC tournament was staged from January 15-28 in 1960 in Manila.
    Seven countries saw action in the two-week competitions. They were Taiwan (Nationalist China), Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Malaya (now Malaysia) and the host Philippines.

    Along with Pakistan, they also attended the conference at which the draft constitution of the ABC was adopted and the participating nations admitted as members.

    Call it homecourt advantage, the 14-man Philippine team romped away with the inaugural ABC tournament in 1960.

    The Filipino cagers, who were skippered by all-time great Carlos (Caloy) Loyzaga, won all of their nine assignments at the old Rizal Memorial Coliseum, including a 99-78 shellacking of Taiwan in the titular match.

    Mentored by Arturo Rius, the first ABC championship unit also included Emilio Achacoso, Kurt Bachmann, Carlos Badion, Narciso Bernardo, Loreto Carbonell, Edgardo Ocampo, Constancio Ortiz, Leonardo Del Pilar, Roberto Yburan, Nicolas (Tata) Carranceja, Alfonso (Pons) Marquez, Mariano (Nano) Tolentino and Eduardo (Eddie) Lim.

    Badion was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

    The ABC was not officially founded until the 2nd ABC competitions in Taipei in November 1963 when representatives from nine countries ratified the ABC constitution and bylaws, and elected, among other officials, then-Philippine Senator (and 1936 PH Olympic team captain) Ambrosio (Paddy) Padilla as president and Calvo as secretary general.

    Even though it lost twice in 11 games (losing to Korea, 62-59, and Taiwan, 96-81, during the preliminary round), the Philippines, which was again skippered by Loyzaga, retained the ABC diadem during the eight-nation 1963 edition following a 91-77 decision over host Taiwan in the finals.
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