Basketball to be younger man's game lTC

August 18, 1991|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,Sun Staff Correspondent

HAVANA SLB — HAVANA -- The Pan American Games men's basketball competition is likely to become a 22-and-under tournament beginning in 1995, according to the president of the sport's governing body in the Americas.

"We've just discussed it, but I've talked to everyone who votes, and it is sure to be passed," said Tuto Marchan, president of the Confederation of Pan Am Basketball Associations. The vote is expected to be taken at a federation meeting in Springfield, Mass., in December.

Also planned is a tournament of the Americas, an event open to all players regardless of age or professional status.

The moves could help restore the United States to the top of the basketball heap and are seen as a way to keep the United States in the Pan Am Games.

"The U.S. talked about getting out [of the Pan Am Games], but they compromised," Marchan said.

The United States, using college players against older professionals, has not won a major championship since 1986. The team lost to Puerto Rico in this year's Pan Am semifinals and earned a bronze medal.

"We'll discuss the proposals," said Bill Wall, executive director of USA Basketball. "My board doesn't even know it yet. We haven't had a chance to talk about it. The trend is going toward basketball controlling its own events. That way, the money is split with basketball people."

Unfortunately for the United States, the age-group rule change probably wouldn't provide much help at the next Pan Am Games, which are scheduled for April 1995 in Mar del Plata, Argentina. The timing of the games -- near the conclusion of the college basketball season -- will make it difficult for the U.S. to assemble top U.S. under-22 players for a team.

"No matter when the dates are, it will affect the U.S. team and the Puerto Rican team," Marchan said. "But you can't think of one Pan Am Games. You have to think of the future."

U.S. coach Gene Keady said the rules will ensure that, in the future, the United States will dominate its opponents in the Americas.

"Any proposal to have a fair and equal game will help us," he said. "I don't think their 22-year-olds can beat ours."

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