Monday, May 17, 2021

The PBA should scrap Fil-foreigner limit


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The PBA has too many limits.

The imports have height limits, and each team has a limit of five Fil-foreigners in its roster. Considering the influx of Fil-foreigners in the last rookie draft, that quota is likely filled, and veteran players like Asi Taulava and Rafi Reavis may be forced into retirement.

There are still a lot of Fil-foreigners in the pipeline. Many of them have the NBA dream just like our own Kai Sotto. However, that is easier said than done, and the window for the NBA keeps getting narrower.

Even NCAA champion Kihei Clark or All Pac-12 player Remy Martin are not assured of slots in the NBA. However, they would eventually be eligible to play for the PBA being Filipino-Americans themselves.

There are also some of the Gilas Pilipinas prospects who missed out on their passports like 6-9 Kamaka Hepa and 6-10 Quentin Millora-Brown.

Hepa and Brown were players who have allegedly shown a lack of interest in playing for the Philippine team, they would definitely welcome the PBA option once the NBA door shuts on them. That is their birthright, and they’re probably training to eat adobo and sinigang right now.


Raising the talent level
The presence of the Fil-foreigners will definitely raise the talent level in the PBA, as it has already raised the height level. Imagine the PBA without the Fil-foreigners, our centers would mostly be 6-5 tall, and June Mar Fajardo would probably average 40 points and 20 rebounds a game.

If the PBA continues to impose the five Fil-foreigners per team rule, there would only be 60 of them in the league for the season. What makes this more complicated is that the definition of “Fil-foreign” is so broad.

Andre Paras is considered a Fil-foreigner since he was born abroad. His father and younger brother have represented the country numerous times, but he still had to comply with the necessary papers to play in the PBA.

However, the idea of scrapping the Fil-foreigner limit is not for the purpose of lifting the height and talent level in the PBA. There are already homegrown talents that are both tall and skilled, and likely to become weapons in our international campaign. Carl Tamayo, Gian Chiu, Kevin Quiambao and Francis “Lebron” Lopez are some of the names to watch out for from the UAAP juniors’ squads.

There are also more discoveries in the provinces, as it seems like the machineries of the universities are more efficient at scouting and recruiting than the SBP itself. So, it is not accurate that we are dependent on the Fil-foreigners to reach the next level of basketball.

We need to scrap the five Fil-foreigner per team rule because it is the right thing to do.

Legally Filipinos
The PBA is already committing a ‘travesty’ by not letting naturalized Filipinos like Marcus Douthit or Andray Blatche to play as locals, basically committing the same restrictive action as the Hagop rule of requiring players to acquire a passport by the age of 16 which they have claimed to oppose. How do you define “hypocrisy” again?

The naturalization decree states that they should have the same rights as natural-born Filipinos. The idea that they are not allowed to practice their own profession here, the very reason why they were even naturalized, is quite ironic.

Ange Kouame will soon be a naturalized Filipino and it was an issue for the senators on whether he will be considered a local or an import in basketball leagues. While Sen. Gordon rightfully reiterated that Kouame should be given all the rights of a local, the UAAP, just like the PBA, is a private institution and they can add rules and requirements to implement.

Beyond the legal
The argument to scrap the limit is not about legality. It is about exciting competition, it is about inclusiveness, it is about pursuing your dream, and possibly getting reintroduced to a heritage that a player may have forgotten, by choice or circumstances.

Let the players play, as we have sent our Filipino players like Sotto, Cholo Anonuevo, and others to be exposed to the largest arenas of basketball and have been welcomed without prejudice, so must the PBA to Fil-foreign players.



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