MANILA, Philippines -- Officials of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) on Sunday expressed their “profound sadness" at the passing of FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann, who suffered a heart attack during the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
FIBA confirmed the passing of Baumann, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee aside from being the organization’s secretary general.
“Despite receiving immediate medical attention, he suddenly and unexpectedly succumbed to a heart attack,” FIBA said in a statement.
Baumann, 51, is survived by his wife and two children.
In a statement sent to ABS-CBN News, SBP president Al Panlilio expressed his “great sadness" at Baumann’s death.
“The last time I saw him in Xi’an, China during the FIBA World Basketball Summit, he was so full of life and shared his visions in how to make basketball the biggest sport globally. He is a big loss to the basketball community. I offer my deepest condolences to the family,” Panlilio said.
SBP chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan, for his part, said: “It is with profound sadness to have learned of the unexpected demise of Mr. Patrick Baumann. I would like first to send my deepest sympathy to his family, and join their in their hour of grief.”
Pangilinan called Baumann “a colossus of world basketball" whose influence on the sport transcends his title. Baumann’s death, the businessman said, “is a devastating personal loss.”
“He has been a good friend of Philippine basketball,” said Pangilinan, who added that Baumann has also been his friend for more than a decade now.
“I will always cherish those memories of meeting him for the first time in Geneva in 2007, a few months after being the SBP president; our presentation in Tokyo for hosting the 2029 World Cup. And finally our bid for 2023 in Geneva,” he said.
“He was a fair, objective but encouraging in our meetings - and more so in our bids. We - and FIBA - have lost our strongest pillar; it is best we carry his memory by doing the things he left us with,” he added.
“We all, without exception, will miss him.”
IOC president Thomas Bach said Baumann’s passing came as “a great shock which has hit us all very hard.”
“Particularly since, even today, we have seen him working hard, as we always knew him, for the sport he loved. We lose a young and sympathetic leader full of hope who was standing for the future of sport. Our thoughts are with his wife, his children and his family,” Bach added.
“Patrick was a lot more than FIBA's Secretary General and an IOC member. He was a very close friend of mine as well as to countless people in the basketball family and the wider sport community,” said FIBA president Horacio Muratore.
“Under his leadership, FIBA moved forward by leaps and bounds, with the organization modernizing itself to the extent of becoming a model which fellow International Federations followed,” he added.
“FIBA is forever indebted to Patrick. Without doubt we would not be where we are today were it not for everything that he did. His unwavering commitment, tireless work ethic and pure passion for basketball mean he will forever have his place in FIBA's history.”
A Swiss national born on August 5, 1967, Baumann was a former player, coach and referee who first joined FIBA as a lawyer in 1994 and was appointed FIBA deputy secretary general in 1995.
In 2002, he was unanimously appointed FIBA secretary general by the FIBA central board. As such, he became only the third FIBA secretary general, after Dr. William Jones and Borislav Stankovic.
Baumann officially started his term of office in 2003, a position he held until his death.
To honor the memory of Baumann, the IOC president asked for the Olympic flag to be flown at half-mast at the IOC headquarters and at the IOC headquarters at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires for three days. The IOC will also hold a memorial in the Youth Olympic Village.
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