IT CAME like a thief in the night and the victims did not know what hit them. In a shocking development, respected basketball coach Joe Lipa announced that the Countrywide Basketball League (CWBL) will no longer push through.
Coach Lipa cited the withdrawal of the league’s broadcast partner who in turn cited financial reasons for its surprise act. It can be said that it was a basketball abortion.
The CWBL had been in the pipeline for two years already and seemed to have difficulty taking flight. Due to the many delays, several of the original teams invited to participate banded together and formed their own league that became the Pilipinas Commercial Basketball League (PCBL) in 2015.
It did not help that many of the brains behind the CWBL are the same brains behind the Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL) which has been plagued by too much controversy ranging from the shabby treatment of provincial schools to the much maligned decision to declare two champions last December. A league like CWBL is much wider in scope than the PCCL and there should be no room for error.
A slew of regional basketball leagues sprouted after the Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA) suspended operations. None of these leagues lasted long enough to approximate the success of the league that electrified Philippine basketball from 1998 to 2002 and history will be the ultimate judge – there will only be one MBA.
For now, the teams and players that had hoped to see action in the CWBL inaugurals are in limbo. There can always run to the PCBL or the PBA D-League but the options seem limited.
Aside from those directly involved in the game, the biggest losers are the fans. Those old enough to have experienced the MBA’s “Passion of the Nation” are longing to teach a new generation how it is to cheer for the home team.
For the record, the CWBL was supposed to commence next month with six teams playing out of the cities of Malolos, Binan, Bogo, Cebu, General Santos and Davao. Perhaps the teams or CWBL management could get together and agree to push through sans television coverage or negotiate with another network, but that remains a very unlikely scenario.