PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial said that the league is open to the possibility of relaxing its eligibility rules and allowing naturalized Filipinos to play as locals, similar to the Indonesian Basketball League’s recent policies.
The IBL, which was founded in 2003, will now let naturalized players suit up as locals in the 2021 season. In the past, they could only play as imports and were required to go through the annual Foreign Players Draft.
“Lahat naman, open tayo sa mga ganyan,” Marcial said during the Philippine Sportswriters’ Association Forum webcast which is powered by SMART and presented by San Miguel Corp., Go For Gold, MILO, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant, and PAGCOR.
Many have been calling for the PBA to recognize naturalized cagers as locals for years now, especially during the time when Marcus Douthit and Andray Blatche became Filipinos to serve Gilas Pilipinas.
However, Asia’s pioneering pro league has kept firm with its ruling that only those allowed to play as locals are either natural-born Filipinos, who are those with one or both parents who were Filipino at the time of their birth; or players who can trace their lineage to the country.
Otherwise, they could only play as imports, who are directly signed by ball clubs and can only play in certain conferences.
But then, Marcial reiterated that the league can discuss the revision of such a ruling and explore it in the near future.
For now, though, the third-year league chief is set to ask the board of governors if they can allow dual citizens to play in the league soon.
“Itatanong ko rin, ipo-propose ko rin sa board kung papaano ‘yung dual citizen, kung papayagan na nila ‘yun. Iba ‘yung requirements natin eh. Tatanong ko kung papayagan na nila ‘yun, so medyo luluwag nang luluwag ng konti,” he said.
“Pero naturalized, hindi ko pa masasabi as of now. Pero, hindi ko sinasara ‘yung pinto natin. Open naman tayo diyan.”