FIBA Asia Executive Director Hagop Khajirian said that basketball’s governing body is open to making changes in player eligibility rules, as long as those tweaks would benefit the growth of the sport throughout the world.
“We are open for change of rules if the proposal or logic presented can help in developing basketball worldwide,” he told Radyo5’s Power and Play hosted by former PBA Commissioner Noli Eala, Saturday.
Player eligibility has been an issue for a while now, especially with the so-called ‘Hagop rule,’ coined after Khajirian as he pushed for the law.
That ruling that requires a player to acquire a passport by the age of 16 has affected many federations, the Philippines included.
It was the reason why FIBA-sanctioned tournaments do not recognize NBA star Jordan Clarkson and PBA BPCs Christian Standhardinger and Stanley Pringle, to name a few.
Standhardinger and Pringle, for instance, can only play for Gilas Pilipinas as naturalized players. The only time they played as locals was in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, where eligibility rules are much more relaxed.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas has actually been vocal about getting rid of the long-standing eligibility rule. Last November, it revealed plans of speaking with FIBA regarding the case of Indo-American cager Brandon Jawato.
He was recognized as a local after initially being listed as a naturalized player. FIBA took into consideration the fact that he has an Indonesian-born father, and he’s been living and playing in the country since 2015.
As big of an obstacle player eligibility rules may seem for some, Khajirian stresses that the international federation is simply pushing for the growth and development of local talent and the sport per se in countries.
“Even if there are proposals to study the cases and the possibility of increasing the number of naturalized players in any national team, we have to take into consideration — Does this change help developing basketball worldwide? Does this change help improve basketball on a national level? So these are our concerns. And not individual cases if we can do this or that.
“I am sure that even in the Philippines when you are ready to make any change within your local rules, we take into consideration what is good for basketball in the Philippines. The same approach you will see in FIBA,” Khajirian opined.