Part 1 :
by Christopher "Bong" Castro (Free Lance)
He’s perhaps the most controversial figure not only in Philippine basketball but in the whole Philippine Sports scene. But in the international scene, more so in the Asian region, Graham C. Lim is undoubtedly one of the most influential and respected personalities who rubs elbows with the top honchos of basketball.
For the past two years, Graham, the secretary general of the Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) has been the main target of twisted maneuvering and politicking of the so-called “major stakeholders of Philippine basketball”. He’s been bruised black and blue by issues on his citizenship, his imprisonment at the Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City and the expulsion of the BAP from the Philippine Olympic Committee.
Even the media was “used” as Lim’s disclaimants and rebuttals were denied of newspaper spaces and proper forum. As if it were not enough, his critics even went all the way to the Federation Internationale Basketball or FIBA to grab recognition for the “new RP cage body” and knock him out of the limelight.
Blame it on his unassuming character, his enemies thought they could put him down. Without even lifting a finger of revenge, Lim got himself vindicated and his enemies were shocked to learn that despite their media maneuvering and the money they spent, they failed to totally eradicate Graham from the basketball scene. Yes, they got the Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP)-Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) approved but it’s officially called as BAP-SBP and Graham remains in the Executive Board of the new Philippine cage body.
Well, the public cannot be blamed for misjudging his personality, after all they were not fully aware of the scuttles and events in the past that led to the controversies in Philippine Basketball. Otherwise, if they only knew his achievements, the Filipino people should have been proud of Graham Lim for keeping the Philippines in the map of world basketball even though realistically, we have tough chances of beating the top guns like the United States and China in the Olympics.
“Probably I’m just an ordinary man who loves basketball that much. And just like every Filipino, I also dream to regain the country’s glory days in world basketball,” quipped Graham.
“I am accused as an alien and not a Filipino even though I was born and raised here, But I believe I am more nationalistic and a true Filipino at heart. Since I assumed position as BAP secretary-general, I’ve been very active in developing Filipino talents through our BAP sanctioned events. However, I got a hard time tapping these talents we developed as they were lured by money in big-time basketball leagues which refused to lend these players to carry the country’s colors in international competitions. So who’s the Filipino now and who’s not? To be a Filipino per se is very, very subjective,” Lim explained.
Part II :
RP’S LOSS COULD BE ASIA ’S GAIN?
Despite all the stones hurled at him, Graham Lim still refused to fight back. He decided to move on. Well if Philippine basketball refuses to appreciate all he had done, he’ll just continue doing it for his own agenda – to pursue his dreams for Philippine basketball and his vision for Asian dominance.
Just recently, he got his appointment as part of the FIBA Youth Commission and took on the task as secretary general of the Asian Universities Basketball Federation (AUBF) now headed by new president, Korean basketball legend Shin Dong Pa.
Even without support from the Philippine Sports Commission, Graham managed to stage a highly successful AUBF Championship recently in Daet, Camarines Norte through the valuable help of government officials and private entities who still believed in him.
If the success of the AUBF were to be a gauge, Lim could be a big loss for the Philippines and a huge gain for Asian basketball.
Lim was very thankful to the big support of Camarines Norte Governor Jesus “Atoy” Typoco and his constituents as host of the prestigious event as well as the major corporate support of Burlington as the official sock, VEGA as the official ball, the executive outfitters from Grand Sports of Thailand who provided referee and table officials’ new uniform image to make it colorful, a corporate like “Healthy Options” provide food supplement, Tanduay, Air-21 Express, Summit Mineral Water, Baker’s Fair, Fronte Motor and the official film - Fuji Film and YKL Color.
The Federation of School Sport Associations of the Philippines (FESSAP) through its president Tisha Abundo and Secretary General Prof. Robert Milton Calo was also a big factor in its huge success together with BAP President Go Teng Kok provided moral and logistic support, BAP Regional Director for Region 5 Dr. Abundio Palencia provided the manpower and the cooperation of the whole BAP-Bicol Chapter.
The closing ceremony was also attended by Congressman Renato Unico and Daet Mayor Elmer Panotes who also gave their share of support. After the event, Lim pay a courtesy call to Bicolano Congressman Luis Villafuerte in Naga city to make the final report and even had to join Villafuerte’s hectic motorcade schedule during the campaign period to relay the wonderful outcome of the said staging.
The secret behind the success of the event was Lim’s hardwork and dedication going around the Bicol region to campaign for support and encouraging the other nearby provinces and municipalities all the way to Masbate to watch the 5th Asian University Basketball Championship in Daet.
Lim also expressed his gratitude for the trust and confidence of China, Korea and Indonesia in this endeavor led by basketball great Mr. Shin Dong Pa of Korea who is the President of Asian University Basketball Federation (AUBF) and Korean-Filipino cultural director Park Hyun Mo, Madam Liu of China, Indonesian Ministry of Education thru Director Dr. Ekodjatmiko Sukarso and former FIBA President Dr. Carl Menky Ching known as the “Asia Basketball Man of the Century”, who is the honorary chairman of Asian University Basketball Federation.
Sukarso, in his letter, even stated “We should have salute Mr. Graham Lim and company for their dedication and commitment in helping the AUSF through the five successful AUBF all held in the Philippines . And in vision of making the AUBF a much bigger event, Mr. Lim stepped down and took the post as Secretary General and gave the chairmanship to Korea ’s Mr. Shin Dong Pa with high hopes of expanding the AUBF in 2008.”
Sangmu of Korea emerged as champion after beating runner-up Rizal Technological University (RTU), 106-85, in the finals held at the Agro Sports Center . Huaquiao University of China ended the 2nd Runner-up while Bicol’s Best and University of Perpetual Help-Rizal (UPHR) wound up fourth and fifth. Emilio Aguinaldo College was sixth. Putra Riau of Indonesia was seventh, University of Baguio was eighth while Jimei University of China ended ninth.
Lee Song Jun was voted Most Valuable Player of the week-long tournament and was joined by Ryan Regalado of RTU, Kim Sung Han and Le Song Jun of Korea, Joemar Punzalan of Bicol’s Best and Chee Li Wei of Huang Qiao in the Mythical Five. Kim Sung Han, also emerged the Finals Most Valuable Player.
Despite the loss, States’ Colleges Universities Athletic Association (SCUAA) Champion’s RTU coach Loreto Tolentino said the Koreans weren’t that impregnable. “we can beat the Korean if we managed to maintain like playing in the first two quarters. The Korean really well prepared and managed to control our shooter. Besides, we really played badly in the last quarter.”
The Sportsmanship Award went to Jimei University of China , while Lee Hun Jae of Sangmu of Korea was named as the Best Coach.
“I’m very happy over the success of the 5th AUBF Championship in Daet, Camarines Norte which also opened big doors to municipalities far away from Manila as equally successful hosts of such prestigious events,” said Lim.
“We do things to reach beyond the heart of the provincial area. We want to achieve things other can’t do, sharing our contribution to the community to make our provincial brothers happy. Thought it may be hard, but what really matters to us is giving them the chance to turn a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness an international event a reality,” he added.
Upcoming events that will be held after this championship are the National Junior Championship in Region IV, National Inter-Club Championship in Baguio City, Asian University Championship for Junior Men and 3 on 3 competition in August, National City League Championship and the National Basketball League from regional meets to be initiated and hosted by BAP Chairman Congressman Luis R. Villafuerte, Congressman Douglas Cagas, Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento with other partners congressman in the House of Representatives and the Mayor’s City League of the Philippines.