The so-called player exodus has been hitting Philippine news since 2021 – during the height of the pandemic.
There are currently 21 Filipino talents playing internationally, spread throughout Japan, Australia, South Korea, and Taiwan.
The majority of players though were coming from the collegiate ranks, which raised concern from Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio.
“I think my concerns are the poachings happening in the collegiate level. Nangyari na po yan sa Ateneo. Baka yun po yung magiging bigger issue – yung losing collegiate players.
“One particular case is SJ Belangel of Ateneo. He didn’t play his last year, he went to Korea,” said Panlilio during a meeting with the Senate.
“Of course, Dwight Ramos was supposed to play for Ateneo, but never did; but went straight to Japan. Although, I think si Dwight for example has committed to the national program. I’m just raising the issue because it’s not just the professional league that’s being poached, but also your collegiate leagues. Now they play outside, ‘no?” he continued.
But for UAAP executive director Rebo Saguisag, in his “personal view and observation”, this is not a problem for the league.
“This is not really new. There are always challenges na sometimes we transfer to other collegiate leagues or sometimes we transfer to any other professional leagues locally and abroad no?” said the amiable executive during Tuesday’s PSA Forum.
For the specific transfer from the UAAP (with playing years left) to overseas leagues, there are three cagers abroad right now namely: SJ Belangel, RJ Abarrientos, and Kobe Paras.
Dwight Ramos, for his part, has yet to debut in the collegiate ranks when he decided to go to the B.League of Japan.
Gomez de Liaño brothers Javi and Juan also left University of the Philippines for Japan with playing years still left.
But this is not a problem for Saguisag since players going abroad is similar to what the UAAP’s goal is.
“Nadagdagan lang so this is really not new and so far with these unofficial conversations I’ve had with the universities, kami naman from developing the youth and giving them the best opportunity to succeed, kami in our view, at least what I gathered it’s just in line with our goal to give these student-athletes the best position to succeed and to give their families an opportunity for a better life,” said Saguisag.
“It may be a ‘concern’ but right now we’re just happy where the student-athletes are going.”
The executive director is also worry-free about the “poaching” since it only opens doors for new talents to shine brightly in the UAAP, which is about to start its 85th season on October 1.
“This problem not being new to us, hindi naman kami nauubusan ng talent, in fact it only gives other students an opportunity to shine.”
Fr. Aldrin Suan, CM, president of UAAP Season 85, also echoed the sentiments of Saguisag.
Suan also noted that, as a basketball-crazed country, there are so many players in the country but few opportunities.
“We have to take note that the professional opportunity of basketball in the Philippines is very limited and we have an overwhelming supply of basketball players,” said Suan, who is the representative of season host Adamson in the Board of Managing Directors.
“Now if you have an oversupply of skills and very limited ang professional venue to express your skills, why curtail that opportunity for other people?”