It was something everyone expected to happen, so there shouldn’t have been any surprise whatsoever. That, however, did nothing to lessen the gravity of the situation.
The Japan Basketball Association was informed on Wednesday that it’d been suspended by FIBA, the sport’s world governing body, for failing to meet its demands, which included a merger of the 13-team NBL and 22-team bj-league before the Oct. 31 deadline.
The FIBA executive committee finalized the sanctions during meetings on Monday and Tuesday. Some details of the ban, such as its length and what activities the JBA is barred from remain uncertain, but what is known is that Japan’s national teams (men, women and under categories) are not allowed to participate in any FIBA- and FIBA-Asia organized tournaments.
According to the statement FIBA issued on Wednesday, it had demanded the JBA mainly work to improve three key points of contention which are:
• Restructuring the JBA to ensure it’s fully functional under FIBA’s general statutes.
• Merging the existing two leagues into one entity that operates under the JBA and plays the game in accordance with the official basketball rules across the country.
• Presenting a concrete sporting plan for the national team beyond 2020.
Among these, the unification of the two men’s circuits has been the most problematic and wound up being one of the major reasons the JBA was punished. FIBA executives visited Japan in 2009 to demand that the JBA merge the leagues, and since then the JBA was unable to bridge the gap between the semi-pro NBL and professional bj-league in time.
The suspension is expected to have an enormous negative impact on the country’s national teams as they try to build strong squads, including Japan’s reigning Asian champion women’s side, in hopes of competing in future Basketball World Cups, world championships and Olympics, including as host of the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.
“We would like to express our deepest apology to the players and those that are associated with basketball,” JBA acting president Mitsuru Maruo said during a Tokyo news conference on Thursday. “In order to lift (the suspension), we are going to work the best we can and that’ll be our mission.”