By Graham C. Lim, October 20, 2022
Molten, a popular basketball brand has an exclusive four-year term contract with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) for season events from FIBA Asia, Europe, Oceania, America, and Africa and all the way to the World Championship (now known as FIBA WORLD Cup), and the Olympic Games.
A product of Japan, Molten is one quality ball that players like and pays a handsome sum to FIBA during the reign of the late Patrick Baumann and Boris Stankovic.
Sometime in 2002 when the FIBA elected Hong Kong-China’s Dr. Carl Men Ky Ching as FIBA President for a term of four years. I was in Indianapolis, USA to represent the Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP), which had been a FIBA member since 1936 before a rebel national basketball association headed by a filthy rich businessman got recognition from Baumann and company in exchange for millions of considerations.
I met the then-Molten President from Japan at the time. It was the start of an illicit partnership by Molten with corrupt leaders from the FIBA. Molten managed to dole out millions of dollars to FIBA so it could get recognition as the official basketball of FIBA for one season --- or the equivalent of a four-year cycle of events that include the World Championship and the Olympic Games.
With its new design, Molten was admired universally by the various hoops federation for use in FIBA-sanctioned competitions. The dual-color ball continues to enjoy the support of many until today.
Its popularity propped up the financial lust of the FIBA bigwigs at the time so much so they wanted to take control of its marketing game plan. The likes of Baumann and Bob Elpinston, the grand old that is Stankovic, and their control FIBA internal marketing firm saw it profitable if they could gain a substantial piece of the financial pie. Greediness throw power play was the game they played.
In 2005, the Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) was unilaterally suspended by Baumann himself without the approval of the FIBA Central Board. Baumann, at the time, was already in deep negotiations with the then-rebellious SBP group for a marketing partnership.
And when the FIBA was granted its demand, it kicked out the BAP and installed the SBP as the new national basketball sports federation from the Philippines. This devilish conspiracy was even more appalling considering that Baumann was a signatory to the 2007 Bangkok agreement that called for the country’s sports federation to be known as BAP-SBP with the BAP holding the majority of the voting members for a one-year transition period.
But trickery led the SBP to disenfranchise the BAP voting members and instead some names to its group following the expiration of the one year just to complete the 25-member to the BAP-SBP Board to acquire the majority. With the connivance of the then-Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Jose Cojuangco Jr. and the FIBA secretariat, the BAP members were overthrown with many manipulations.
Mercifully, Baumann passed away in 2018 to the relief of some of the disgruntled officials from the FIBA continents as his desire to control the FIBA for a lifetime was halted, to control was to create the so-called “One FIBA” strategy which is currently in used.
It was Molten that provided the FIBA with a huge chunk of the marketing money.
With Molten now under the control of FIBA marketing until today, the cost of its basketball brand has also grown. It’s not only because of the high cost of the quality refinement for Molten balls but also because it has to hand out chunks of money to subsidize the FIBA for what the anomalous marketing scheme dictates.
While Baumann and Stankovic are no longer to feast on the money, Bob Elphinston is still around to may hay while the sun shines. The marketing scheme does not have the total concern of the new FIBA Board but Elphinston still wields some power as an honorable FIBA Central Board member.
While lots of people in many countries suffer from famine or lack of food, even many members do not actually enjoy any benefits or substantial support from the FIBA marketing’s largesse. More so now that the FIBA has so much money with the entry of NBA players to FIBA-sanctioned international competitions.
Then again, all these press releases stating that the FIBA is shelling out money to the poorer FIBA members are pure baloney.
The FIBA has millions to disburse as a result of its devious marketing scheme as an insider said. In fact, the FIBA treasurer, who once was the kingpin of the discredited FIBA secretariat, continues to run all the way to the bank with his personal loot.
I am not against Molten, not at all. But its high price is unconventional (some money of which is to be turned over to the FIBA) and can be disappointing.
There are other brands of basketball of equal quality, if not of better quality, such as Mikasa, which is also from Japan; Wilson, Peak, Li-Ning, and Spalding.
Some of the brands manufactured in China are also enjoying the support of people from Asia and Africa.
Come to think of it, if we want to dribble and shoot the ball in the neat nylon basket, all we need is to feel the touch of the ball that satisfies our pulse, and carries a standard lightweight. It need not be expensive.
Molten cost includes fees from the franchise, royalty, and commission to the FIBA for the extravagant marketing partnership.
A piece of advice to everyone: Look for balls that are good quality but are inexpensive, or at least more reasonable in price.
Molten, after all, is not the sole basketball brand in the universal market.