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Kai Sotto, overseas imports make stand: ‘This has to stop’

Heated has been the debate regarding the ongoing exodus of Filipino players to overseas leagues for the past week.

During a Senate meeting with officials from the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and the Philippine Basketball Association last Monday, it was raised that the “poaching” of players is affecting both the local league and the national team.

The PBA’s board of governors, in full force, even met with their Japan B.League counterparts last Friday to lay down the league’s rules on player transfers.

But on Saturday, the players started speaking out. And this came at the wake of full-time Gilas player William Navarro not being able to get his letter of clearance from the SBP to complete his transfer to Seoul Samsung.

Kai Sotto, who is in his second year with Australia NBL team Adelaide, led the overseas players in wanting to see Navarro play.Kai-Sotto-on-William-Navarro Kai Sotto, overseas imports make stand: 'This has to stop' Basketball News  - philippine sports news

“I’m sorry but this is crazy. THIS HAS TO STOP. You got players who’ve been working hard and dreaming to play basketball at the highest level they can reach and we got our own people stopping us from achieving greatness.”

Navarro, 25, signed with the SBP back in 2021 after being picked by Northport in the Gilas round of the Rookie Draft. His contract runs until March, 2023.

In three years, he has only played 13 games.

Abarrientos, a good friend of Sotto and Navarro, also chimed in.RJ-Abarrientos-on-William-Navarro Kai Sotto, overseas imports make stand: 'This has to stop' Basketball News  - philippine sports news

“Really? Being an impediment to someone’s dream?” read the story of Abarrientos, who is set to play for Ulsan Hyundai Mobis.

“You all should support Filipino athletes who are playing abroad. Similar to any other profession, you’ll do what’s best for your career! They are choosing to play and strengthen their ability while representing the country.”

But it’s not just Sotto and Abarrientos who shared their thoughts on social media.

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Free Market

2022-23-B.League-Kyoto-Hannaryz-Matthew-Wright Kai Sotto, overseas imports make stand: 'This has to stop' Basketball News  - philippine sports newsFormer PBA pros Matthew Wright and Greg Slaughter also went to social media to express their rights as a player to play wherever they want.

Wright, 31, played in the PBA for six years. After his contract expired last August 31, he signed with Kyoto.

And he knows that if he gets renewed for a second year, he will not be able to return to the PBA for three more years.

“Even though we might be banned we still represent Pinoy Pride wherever we go,” Wright tweeted.2022-23-B.League-Fukuoka-Greg-Slaughter Kai Sotto, overseas imports make stand: 'This has to stop' Basketball News  - philippine sports news

Meanwhile, Slaughter emphasized that it’s within their rights to sign with any league they want.

TOTAL BS and crab mentality at its highest. The PBA slammed the door on me and my family DAYS BEFORE my daughter was born. I played seven years and publicly made myself available to the NT. Respect the true ethics of the game of basketball and FAIR COMPETITION,” he said.

“I am so grateful We Filipinos have these opportunities to play and represent our country in leagues like the B.League. It is an honor to join the millions of others working as OFWs.”

Currently, there are 11 Filipinos playing in Japan, five in Korea, three in Taiwan, one in New Zealand, and one in Australia. And Sotto believes that there will be much more.

“More to come!”

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