The Philippine basketball landscape has changed, with players leaving home to pursue better opportunities abroad.
The country already has eight players in the Japan B.League ecosystem led by the Ravena brothers, Thirdy (San-En) and Kiefer (Shiga).
Also signed there are Bobby Ray Parks (Nagoya), Kobe Paras (Niigata), Gomez de Liaño brothers Javi (Ibaraki) and Juan (Tokyo Z), and Kemark Cariño (Aomori).
Meanwhile, 7-foot-3 Kai Sotto is with the Adelaide 36ers in NBL-Australia. Then Lebron Lopez signed with Overtime Elite in the US.
And with the market for Philippine athletes growing, Philippine National Volleyball Federation president Tats Suzara is confident that this will also be the trend for spikers across the country.
Currently, there are three Filipino standouts playing as import in the Japan V.League – Jaja Santiago, Bryan Bagunas, and Marck Espejo.
Espejo, who signed with Oita Miyoshi back in 2018, is making a comeback in the V.League after being tapped by FC Tokyo.
Meanwhile, Santiago has been tapped by Saitama Ageo for the fourth straight year while Bagunas will be playing for Oita for the third straight season.
“I think maybe in the next two years we could have more players playing in other countries,” shared Suzara on the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum, Tuesday morning.
“I’m very optimistic that there will be more opportunities for our players especially we have tall players,” he added in the session powered by Smart and Upstream Media as its official webcast partner.
Just last May, the Filipino volleyball import list was supposed to grow with Majoy Baron accepting an offer from Top Seed Volleyball Club in Taiwan. However, the tournament was postponed due to the continuously growing COVID-19 cases there.
Suzara said with more players competing abroad, it will be a win-win situation for the PNVF.
The players get more exposure and a different level of competition, while the country benefits from their international experience.
“These are things we are looking forward to. More opportunities sa players to play internationally and it will be good also for our national team,” Suzara said.