What does homegrown talent mean?
Over the last decade, there have been many leagues that have come and gone that tried to market themselves promoting grassroots and homegrown talent. But clearly, none of them answered what it means to be truly homegrown.
This is the mission of upstart National Basketball League.
With the vision of chairman Soy Mercado and the experience of commissioner Nandy Garcia, the league is hoping to form teams that are composed of players who are native.
“Etong liga natin, tulad ng sinabi ninyong lahat, grassroots tayo. Meron tayong eligibility na kailangan legitimate ka from the representing location. We will be very strict dun sa checking kung taga-saan yung mga players,” Mercado declared during the league’s press conference held at Dad’s EDSA, Thursday.
“Sa akin naman, yung tunay na homegrown malalaman yung eligibility kung dun siya lumaki, nakilala, at naglaro,” added Garcia.
For the inaugural season of the league, there are 12 teams that have signed up. The founding members of the league are Bataan Elites, Bulacan Makabayan, CamSur Express, Laguna Pistons, Marikina Shoemakers, Nueva Ecija Best Friends, Paranaque Aces, Quezon City Rising Stars, Rizal Spartans, Mad-Max Taguig Generals, Dasmarinas Monarchs, and late-addition Pangasinan.
Though the process of player eligibility will be tedious, it is something that they have to be strict with, according to Mercado.
“Ito yung liga na siguradong magtatagal dahil yung mga players ay lehitimong taga-doon sa lugar na iyon. Lahat ng mga players natin ay taga doon mismo,” he shared.
“Binuo natin yung NBL para malaman natin kung ano talaga ang ibig sabihin ng homegrown.”
But the mission of the NBL will not just be about men’s cagers, as they have multiple divisions in the pipeline – including a concrete plan for women’s basketball.
“We have 14u boys and girls and the 17u boys and girls. We will also launch the WNBL,” said league marketing head Rhose Montreal.
“We consider ourselves as a complimentary league to all the leagues here. We are a more professionalized ligang labas. We are giving them a platform to showcase their talent in preparation for their return to the semipros or the pros.”
The inaugural season of the league tips off on Saturday, August 25. Games will be shown on Basketball TV.