Japan Basketball Association (JBA) has been warned by Patrick Baumann, secretary general of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), they need to resolve problems found in the nation’s basketball circle or face far greater risks in the future.
Baumann met JBA executives in Tokyo hoping to resolve the ongoing problem of which of Japan’s basketball leagues – the National Basketball League or the Basketball Japan (BJ) League – is officially the top circuit for players in the nation.
He also wanted to help executives in mending the status quo between the Japanese Basketball League (JBL) and the BJ League after a proposed JPA-led merger, which had hoped to unite the two leagues into one for the 2013 season, fell through leading to the JBL changing its name to the NBL.
The now-21-team BJ-league, which was launched in 2005 as Japan’s first professional league, became recognised by the JBA in 2010 but Baumann took exception to BJ-league rules, such as a ball-carrying player being able to call a timeout, citing this violates FIBA rules.
Baumann, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), reportedly warned the JBA that Japan’s national teams might not earn automatic qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics due to FIBA’s growing frustration with the JBA, claiming basketball in the nation had not progressed since it hosted the 2006 FIBA World Championships.
Baumann’s stern message this week was not the first time that the JBA received similar warnings from basketball’s world governing body.
In February 2009, then-FIBA president Bob Elphinston and Baumann visited Japan and told the JBA that they were concerned about the two-league situation that many view as a mind-numbing impasse.
JBA’s deputy chairman Yasuhiko Fukatsu insisted that the organisation needed “to work on the homework we were given from FIBA,” following the statements made by Baumann.
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