A couple of days ago, Thirdy Ravena broke the news when he signed a deal to play for the Japan B-League.
It’s a great opportunity. It’s probably the reason why he skipped the 2019 PBA Draft. If we want a player in the NBA, then the first step is to let top amateur players try their luck in other places. Inasmuch as I don’t side with Tab Baldwin on his three-import proposal (particularly because we need to develop big men and most imports play the forward/center positions), I believe the PBA has no right to ban players from testing the international waters.
With this in mind, I also saw a couple of articles with regards to Calvin Abueva and Kobe Paras getting the invite to play in the same league.
I say go. For Abueva, this is a chance for him to revive his career. If the PBA public thinks he’s a nuisance, then let these fans miss him. Japan could give him a fresh start. Whether he comes back after a few games or a couple of years, the PBA as well as the Phoenix Fuel Masters could just loan him and keep his rights in the Philippines when he comes back. Most Chinese stars had this when they tried their luck in the NBA and I guess with globalization, the PBA can also adopt this rule.
So what happens with the PBA? I see this as an opportunity. The only reason why I don’t want to agree with Tab Baldwin’s assessment is that he thinks the PBA is just a basketball league. Yes, we take our basketball seriously but the league is also a television show. Think of the PBA as Eat Bulaga – with only one game in its entirety of existence.
Can you imagine 40+ years of Bawal Judgmental?
What is there even to judge at that point?!?
Yes, three imports could improve the gameplay of the players but it will also alienate the viewers. If Thirdy becomes a star in Japan, I bet a network would cover his games. However, if a PBA team is just an import show, then I can see the league games moving away from primetime especially if the ratings continue to tank.
Again, the PBA destroys program schedule grids. The TV5 mid-afternoon/early evening newscast has an hour’s worth of airtime during Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays and drops to 15-minute newsbreaks in PBA doubleheaders. Despite being a sports institution, most rival network newscasts rarely report about their games unless there’s an international brawl, a senate inquiry, or a showbiz relationship.
Also, since PBA teams carry brand names, rival networks are not willing to give the PBA “free publicity”.
Finally, if you check out the last five top picks from 2014 to 2019, you’d find that Stanley Pringle (2014), Mo Tautuaa (2015), and Christian Standhardinger (2017) are 27 years old and up when they applied in the PBA Draft. Matthew Wright, one of the special round picks in 2016, also applied after earning his stripes in the ABL. Maurice Shaw, the second pick overall (or seventh if you include the special draft) of the 2019 PBA Draft, was about to turn 35 when the Blackwater Elite selected him.
While we don’t know the pre-ABL playing styles of Pringle, Tautuaa, and Standhardinger, we know that these players were able to exhaust their international opportunities before playing in their homeland. I guess this is why Thirdy, Abueva, and other up and comers could play elsewhere and just treat the PBA as their safety net. There is nothing wrong with this notion. A player will experience a different way of playing basketball and he could expand our gameplay the moment he shares his knowledge.
The PBA could also reformat their league. The restricted free agency is an in-house problem because we have seen a lot of careers getting wasted. Maybe it’s time for the league to help a player to decide on whether he wants a rich contract or a surplus of minutes. While there are people who are saying that 12 teams are not enough, I say it is enough… especially if there’s an equal distribution of superstars.
Also, maybe they can use the Liga A and Liga B format that most leagues have. If the PBA teams battle it out with MPBL teams in I guess two round-robin conferences in which the worst teams are going to be demoted, and then chances are the level of competition will get a tremendous boost.
The PBA should have two conferences (because one long season is going to be a chore to watch) and enough time for the national team to prepare for the FIBA-sanctioned tournaments or to join other international tilts.
And finally, I know Asian imports are either helpful like the case of Michael Madanly… or unnecessary like Mahmoud Abdeen’s San Miguel stint but this is something we could have an edge as compared to the Chinese Basketball Association. In the CBA, American imports are more favored compared to Asian imports. If the PBA would treat these players as locals (complete with their own draft), then these guys could settle here and make the PBA a great place for Asian basketball.