So it has come to this.
The PBA is basically a summer vacation for athletes.
Kiefer Ravena has stated that he's going to play for the NLEX Road Warriors if the PBA permits it. Most recently, reports have surfaced that Matthew Wright will leave the Phoenix Fuel Masters after the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup to go to the Japan B-League.
And while his impact fares less as compared to Kiefer and Wright, Andre Paras has since taken a leave from his Blackwater activities to focus his attention back on showbiz.
The PBA season is about to start and there are still players in search of teams and the best contracts available.
A month ago, I made a list that enumerates my Top 100 PBA players.
When I enumerated my Top 20 players, only four of them saw action in the Gilas Pilipinas squad that scored the devastating silver medal finish. Moreover, two of the top ten players are either out of the league or going out of the league. This is also the season in which Arwind Santos will turn 41 years old.
While I am up for globalization and everyone should be proud of the accomplishments that led to Kai Sotto becoming a potential NBA draft pick, this is worse than when the PBA is competing with the MBA in terms of talent.
Romel Adducul could have played in the PBA had it not for the Manila Metrostars' offer and the mindset of becoming the face of the MBA. Guys like Kiefer, Thirdy Ravena, Bobby Ray Parks, Matthew Aquino, Juan Gomez de Liano, Dwight Ramos, Jason Brickman, and after this conference, Wright, are playing in leagues where they can't be called stars. Yeah sure, Justin Brownlee is a household name but what about the imports from the most recent conferences? It's the same case with the Pinoy imports. Pinoy players are playing for other fans that aren't as appreciative as we are of our players.
Basketball isn't even the top sport in their country.
The PBA is losing their players to opportunity... as well as drive. A bigger paycheck abroad as well as the opportunity to face the best that the league - whether Japanese, ASEAN, Taiwanese, or Korean - has to offer? I mean... why the hell not?
Nurses do this all the time.
In the PBA, the only way for players to earn a bigger paycheck is by going to the big market teams with the possibility of turning a respectable career into a benchwarming one. I have to make Paul Zamar an example because he chose a second-string role in San Miguel than become a starter in Blackwater. Zamar had to have a breakout performance in the ABL to earn a spot in the pros... so he could average 2.6ppg and 0.8rpg in a season? Last January, Terrafirma, Blackwater, and Phoenix either traded or lost their players to free agency to the SMC or the MVP teams.
Maybe for guys like Justine Baltazar, he would rather control his destiny than be in this bind, and for guys like Javee Mocon and Abu Tratter, there must be a way to earn more because of their hard work and at the same time play to their potential. Again, there is talk that Juami Tiongson is a name that could potentially move to an SMC team. There was a time when Tiongson is in the PBA D-League and last season, he averaged 16.4 points for Terrafirma. If San Miguel wants to make this an even trade, then they need to part ways with Terrence Romeo, Marcio Lassiter, and Chris Ross and I don't think SMB would be that generous.
From single-corporation owners, maybe it's time for the PBA to have multiple sets of owners. But maybe they need to merge all teams in the Philippines? Maybe it's time for Philippine basketball to have a Serie A and Serie B?
Regardless, the PBA's "top dog" mantra is dated. After the high of the early 2010s, the league is now in a bind. Southeast Asian teams are not afraid of us and even the best players could care less about what they are at the moment.