Kiefer Ravena gets the go signal to play for the Shiga Lakestars.
If Japan can get our pros, it’s time for the league to expand to other territories.
I know the last time we did something of this magnitude, Ginebra fans were treated with Sanchir Tungalag. The Mongolian superstar was so “Michael Jordan” in his country that he couldn’t believe the fact that he’s riding the bench of the crowd favorites. Kim Ji-Won would eventually replace him and if you check out his Instagram page, he’s either modeling clothes or advertising what could be is his country’s equivalent to Dancing with the Stars.
With that said, I know the PBA must be really pissed with the development because it robs them of the talent. Moreover, it’s not like that these players are their battle-tested vets. Calvin Abueva may have stayed away from the controversy over an extended period but his former self could have been the perfect player to exile. Ditto with Terrence Romeo – but his premium gameplay could make him an even bigger star elsewhere. If an offer was given to Jayson Castro, the PBA wouldn’t dare hissyfit on his fortune because The Blur has done everything else that needs to be done other than an MVP and a grand slam.
After the days of Rajko Toroman, Chris Tiu, and Marcus Douthit, the stars of Philippine basketball are the ones that participate in international events. Ranidel De Ocampo and Marc Pingris are seen as better names as compared to Arwind Santos. Gabe Norwood is seen by many as an all-time star even if his biggest individual award is a Mythical Second Team citation. Kiefer Ravena, Thirdy Ravena, Kobe Paras, Bobby Ray Parks, Kai Sotto, Juan Gomez de Llano, and other notable stars outside the Philippines are seen as top stars and the league couldn’t do anything about it.
Is there any hope? Globalization is a step. Multiple franchises to eliminate the talent monopoly of the rich teams are another. Multiple leagues with relegation and ascension are another way to instill equality.
Moreover, the PBA must improve their website, give out the complete stats of their players as well as their legends, reveal the salary cap, and make sure that there are no conduits in the landscape. If you think about it, it’s the little things that mess up the league’s image. If the league can’t reveal a player’s salary and the team’s salary cap, then a lopsided trade would be more unexplainable because the facts are non-existent.
And having a pro selection to go up against the best teams in Asia with the proper exposure could be a way for the PBA to have their own version of Gilas Pilipinas.
If Tab Baldwin has qualms about using the pro players, then let’s have these ballers a semblance of the spotlight to get acclaim outside of the Philippines. I mean, let’s give the PBA an international avenue where they can meet the immigrants and the OFWs. What better way to combat homesickness than a slew of players going to foreign lands to bring smiles to faces.
If you think about it, the young players have seen the reality of Philippine basketball beyond the Philippines. Jalen Green is a Top 5 prospect in the 2021 NBA Draft and gone are the days where we just go googly-eyed at the sight of NBA players. Moreover, they know that if they go to the PBA now, they’ll end up playing in a league where small market squads are eaten by the teams with bigger budgets and the uneven talent distribution could mess up their individual and team-based goals.
If the PBA is a business, then they need to find a way to connect with the times. Otherwise, we’re probably going to see a weak draft class headlined by a top star that would just get disillusioned because instead of leading a squad, the team that drafted him would just offer him to a big franchise for a couple of benchwarmers.