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Out From The Box: Fr. Calvo reveals 10 reasons why NCAA banned ‘imports’

“I can enumerate ten disadvantages. Meron lang silang na-present na one or two advantages.”

This was part of the statement of Fr. Vic Calvo, OP, Season 96 Management Committee (ManCom) Chair of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and Athletic Director of host Colegio de San Juan De Letran. 

Fr. Calvo was justifying the NCAA ManCom’s prior decision to ban foreign student-athletes in their competitions during the Philippine Sportswriter’s Association forum, Tuesday morning.

He also added, “The NCAA realizes na yung presence ng mga foreign players as of the moment has done more harm than good sa basketball.”

In an exclusive interview for Out From The Box, we asked Fr. Calvo to enumerate his aforementioned ten disadvantages of having foreign “imports” playing in the league.

First, these “imports” cannot play in the Philippine Basketball Association nor for the national team.

Second, one slot for scholarships will be taken by these “imports”, which could be allotted to a local player.

Third, he debunked the opinion that these “imports” — who are mostly big men — help in developing local big men. Take the case of San Sabastian College-Recollectos producing Ian Sangalang, while Letran had Raymund Almazan — both of whom are now steady contributors for the mother teams in the PBA and the national team.

Fourth, these “imports” are allegedly for-hire. They usually employ agents, which is contrary to their amateur status. Fifth, according to him, it is common knowledge that to maintain these “imports”, schools must shell out sky-rocketing allowances. The fourth and fifth reasons give substantial justification to his sixth reason, which is that the aforementioned practices are against the very concept of amateur competition.

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For his seventh reason, he touched the issue of age vis-à-vis player eligibility. According to Fr. Calvo, there is no way to truly verify the ‘real’ age of an “import”. Usually, these players come in stating their age at 18.

Ninth, these imports will play for the highest bidder — meaning the school who will provide these foreigners the juiciest perks will most likely land them. For his ninth reason, Fr. Calvo cited the case of these foreigners taking their schools ‘hostage’, especially after the elimination round. Pressed to comment more on this, he divulged that these imports are handled by the same agents, if not agents who are close to each other. As such, these athletes would hang out together and allegedly compare notes regarding allowances, perks, etc. If one import feels shortchanged in comparison to a fellow import from another school, he would make demands of his school for him to play better, especially if his school has made the playoffs.

Lastly, the presence of these imports has allegedly contributed to the decreased interest in NCAA Basketball.

Fr. Calvo stressed that if some member schools would still push allowing these “imports” in the NCAA, he would suggest the NCAA put up two separate tournaments — one All-Filipino and one with “imports.”

Asked about comparing the situation with the one of the U.S. NCAA, which allows foreign players to strut their stuff in different colleges, he said that if the NCAA would want that, it should also craft rules similar to that of the U.S. NCAA that protect the amateur nature of their athletes.

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The ManCom has maintained its firm position of disallowing foreign student-athletes in their competition. Whether it is beneficial or not for the players, the league, the school, and Philippine Basketball in general — only time and history can judge and can tell.

Chris King De La Cruz is a basketball coach/ teacher. He teaches sports journalism at UST-IPEA and Fundamentals of Faith at UST Senior High School.

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