Graham Lim, the whipping boy, secretary-general of the Basketball Association of the Philippines, has been the recipient of a lot of bashing lately. And he probably deserves the heap of flak being?dumped on him.
Imagine sending a collegiate squad into a major invitational tournament abroad, clothing the players with national colors, having them called Philippine team, and then letting them loose in a den full of lions? That they got mercilessly devoured in the Stankovic Cup in Taipei was nothing. That they got mercilessly devoured in front of the ESPN camera for the whole world to see was what really made the blood curdle.
Imagine players who probably ride camels going to the gym, and negotiating vast tracks of sand, burying us under tons of offensive debris. That's why Graham finds himself getting carve up again like some Thanksgiving turkey. If the fellow follows the suggestion that he resigns, maybe he would be doing Philippine basketball a favor.
But Graham reads the sports pages, finds out he's taken another direct hit, smiles and scratches an imaginary itch from his brow, and proceeds to buy more shares into the BAP.
The guy simply is impervious to criticism. Someone takes away his passport, Graham immediately flies out to 10 different destinations around the globe. Somebody demands that he gets deported, he at once makes plans for Christmas. And on the day a call for an indignation rally against him was sounded, Graham Lim sat in the same room with the leaders of Philippine sports to hail the election of former congressman Peping Cojuangco as president of the Philippine Olympic Committee.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Basketball Association practically rolls out the red carpet for him, waiting until Graham approves a memorandum of agreement that would allow the PBA to field a team to the Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC) men's championships, and probably the Olympic Games, before picking the national coach. Joel Banal, Chot Reyes, Yeng Guiao and Tim Cone, four of the greatest coaching minds in the country, are kept frozen in suspense while Graham scratches his brow and probably say, "Malay ko naman na magkakaroon ng ESPN doon." But then Graham Lim isn't going anywhere.
At least not until Carl Ching Menky, the FIBA president, has something to say in the affairs of international amateur basketball. Or until somebody of the stature and political persuasion of the newly-installed POC president takes an interest in bringing back the glory days of Philippine basketball.
You either hate him or you tolerate him. No need to love the guy, really. This, I figured, is what the PBA has finally accepted; the reason the pro league has agreed to waltz with Graham Lim. Is this bad for Philippine basketball? Not for the Japan-bound 2005 RP team that will be shooting for a slot in the World Olympics, if you ask me. Nor the 2007 national squad that will be gunning for an Olympic berth for 2008 in Beijing.
When the future of Philippine basketball was in a terrible state of confusion, Graham, in shocking statements given us, parted the dark clouds by agreeing, among others, to draw up a new MOA with the BAP, send an all-PBA team to the ABC, and allow the PBA to run the show until the 2008 Olympics.
I was on the other line when Graham made this promise and I initially thought the guy was running a fever or was into some kind of substance. He wasn't. Somebody probably just got to him first.
At any rate, I urge people who had a hand in convincing Graham Lim to send that collegiate team - not a pro-reinforced team, not a UAAP or NCAA squad, or a team from the Philippine Basketball League - to the massacre in Taipei to come out and say a few words or make a few calls.
Not that Graham Lim needs it. But I think doing so would lessen the aggravation felt by those who desperately loves to resurrect Philippine basketball.
About Johnny Tam, Graham Lim's favorite coach. Now, that would be a tough one to whip a column around.