With Kobe Paras joining the exodus of Pinoy collegiate hoops players to Japan, I’m beginning to fear that one of these days, the PBA will announce another drastic move designed to stem the tide.
But I’m still hoping that the PBA board will see the light of day and see this latest development as that, a development for Philippine basketball.
It’s like this, before the Philippine Football League came to play, the highest a local footballer could dream of was to get a collegiate degree through football. Now, with the pro league, one can have his own pro dreams. Ditto with the local volleyball scene. A college degree or a spot in the semi-pro circuit was the highest one could dream of.
The pro leagues in football and volleyball changed the landscape of the college scene.
In basketball, the PBA was the goal for generations of gifted youngsters. Trailblazers like Paras, and Juan and Javi Gomez de Liano are showing the next generation of kids that one can dream of playing in other countries.
Must the PBA play the spoilsport by saying that these dreamers won’t be allowed to take a spot in the PBA should their adventures abroad take a dive?
When Thailand put up its own pro league and had Pinoys as imports, we didn’t hear a pip from the league. In fact, I saw a few features of ex-PBA players who found their niche there.
The board, of course, made its move when it was the Ravenas who were seeking their fortunes abroad. Why? Is it okay for the “mid-table player” to seek jobs abroad but not for the elite players?
Our footballers are playing in other Asean leagues because of the Asean quota. Paras et al. are playing in Japan because the league has an Asian quota. Other leagues have that and are beginning to scout for Pinoy talents.
Not only do they get a marquee player, they get an automatic “home crowd,” with the bunch of overseas Filipino workers all over Asia. I have a feeling these moves will be a commercial success and more clubs will take this route.
This will open many doors for collegiate athletes—those lucky enough to get spots abroad and those lucky still to get the spots in the PBA that would have gone to these kids.
I just hope one day, the PBA will change its views. Skipping the PBA will be good for Philippine basketball and eventually, for the PBA itself.
It is, as the cliché goes, already 2021. Time to dance with the changing times.