Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

My thoughts about the Philippines' historic first opening win ever in Group Stage play in the Suzuki Cup

We're going thataway! Simone Rota points to his teammates after scoring the equalizer for the Philippines in its 4-1 romp over Laos.
This appears in the Monday November 24, 2014 edition of the Business Mirror.

My thoughts about the PMNT’s historic first opening win ever in Group Stage play in the Suzuki Cup
by rick olivares

There’s a sense of history coming into the 2014 Suzuki Cup. The Philippines, for the first time ever in the tournament’s 18-year history, won its group stage opener, 4-1, over Laos.

That certainly sets a good tone for the tournament. Far better than the 1-1 draw with Singapore four years ago and certainly much better than the 2-1 loss to Thailand two years ago.

Here’s what I think of the Philippines’ win.

I love the pace and power the PMNT displayed.
From the opening whistle, the Philippines attacked dictated the pace and that had the Laotians on their heels. Martin Steuble on the right flank and Misagh Bahadoran (including Jerry Lucena) on the left created problems for David Booth’s side.

If the central midfield play had been better then Laos might have been blown out even worse.

They moved up the ball better than any time I have seen them in the Suzuki Cup a far cry from the slower pace and supposed ball control in the previous edition.

It looks like the Philippines is in superb shape as they sustained their attack for 90 and change while the physicality somewhat took away from Laos’ attack.

You have to love the response of the PMNT after going down, 1-nil.
In 2010, the team was happy to be there and take down those who underestimated them.

In 2012, there was pressure to prove the 2010 semifinals seat was no fluke.

This time, the PMNT is considered to be one of the best sides in Southeast Asia, and for the first time are going in with a lot of confidence never mind if the lead was poor. The lead up to the Suzuki Cup has always been poor. There is something about playing in the main tournament as opposed to friendlies that brings out the best in teams and the Philippines, at least in the last four years, has been no exception.

Want further proof? In 2010, after Singapore scored first, the nationals responded with a Chris Greatwich goal. In 2012, after going down by two goals to Thailand in the first half, the Philippines responded much better in the second. Paul Mulders pulled one back and the Philippines had good chances to equalize as they got better in the second half of play.

That goal by Phil Younghusband right before the halftime whistle was a killer.
You’re even Steven at 1-1 and are thinking of adjustments to make. All coaches would love for no mistakes to be made right before the break and that pace of the Philippines and cross by Lucena saw Phil Younghusband break through with a header for his 41st international goal and his third in Suzuki Cup play. Now Booth has to figure out how to get on level terms aside from stabilizing his team.

Know that every time Phil scores in the Suzuki Cup, the Philippines is 3-0.

The substitution of Mark Hartmann by Patrick Reichelt was an inspired one.
Thomas Dooley has taken a lot of stick from his players and some quarters about his choices to come on to the game.

Mark Hartmann wasn’t his usual influential self and Dooley send in Reichelt who normally starts. As if the Philippines’ pace wasn’t giving Laos problems then there’s another speedster with a good head for the game coming in. From a 2-1 lead that was by no means safe, Reichelt’s third goal all but put out the fight in Booth’s side. Reichelt would score another making it two goals in 12 minutes. Talk about an impact substitution.

And Dooley will forever be the man who finally gave Patrick Deyto his chance. And it’s about damn time. Deyto was great for much of the match except for that near howler in the 64th minute when a forward pass – similar to the Lucena to Younghusband connection that resulted on a score – found a gap and was nearly poked in when the PMNT ran out. But since there no goal was scored I am sure Deyto will not make that mistake again. But if the midfield defense – especially on the flanks – was quick to recover then they would have not been in that position.

As for the tactics? Steuble on the wings? Great decision. No one saw that coming. Nice ace, up Dooley’s sleeve.

What does the team need to work on?

The play coming up the middle.
If Hartmann can spray those passes forward and diagonally with his trademark accuracy then opponents are in a world of hurt. And a strong presence in the central midfield will create for better combination plays.

The defense just outside the box.
I noticed some acres of space. Good teams will exploit that. Some players play too high. Simple adjustments in positioning will solve that.


Massive win. Now to take care of business with Indonesia and repay some old debts.


-----------------

The Philippines, for the first time ever in the tournament’s 18-year history, won its group stage opener.

Know that every time Phil Younghusband scores in the Suzuki Cup, the Philippines wins. That tally is 3-0.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ranking Footloacker's 2014 Week of Greatness ads & why I love them!

Loving the 2014 Footlocker ads! I ranked them in terms of my favorites and here are the results:

1. Derrick Rose and Tim Duncan in "Excited". Watch The Big Fundamental knocked down a plant in excitement. Who said you cannot have fun while being boring? Five NBA titles and he's entitled to that.

2. John Cena tells a fan in a veiled reference to pro wrestling to "suspend his disbelief" and that "IT's REAL!"

3. James Harden pokes fun at his lack of defense in this hilarious advert titled "Defensive".

4. I love this coz Manny Pacquiao believes that the fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.  -- well, "IT's HAPPENING!" What makes this even more cool is the Black Mamba trainign t-shirt he is wearing. That should give Kobe Bryant an extra boost now that the Los Angeles Lakers have won two straight.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Looking at longevity & tenure in the PBA


Looking at longevity & tenure in the PBA
by rick olivares

Does longevity and tenure help a team? Or does it breed bad habits since one could think they have security of tenure?

I will ONLY look at the top five PBA clubs as per the rankings of Wednesday, November 19, 2014 and examine their rosters.

The Alaska Aces are currently on top with a 6-1 record. They have nine players on their roster who have played three or more seasons with the club in Sonny Thoss, Tony dela Cruz, Sam Eman, Cyrus Baguio, Paolo Bugia, RJ Jazul, Calvin Abueva, JVee Casio, and the injured Gabby Espinas.

The San Miguel Beermen, also at 6-1, have few players on their roster who have played that long as well. They are led by six-year SMB vet Arwind Santos followed by Chris Lutz, Marcio Lassiter and JuneMar Fajardo.

The 5-2 Barangay Ginebra San Miguel have Jayjay Helterbrand and Mark Caguio who have played their entire careers for the club. There’s also Billy Mamaril, LA Tenorio and Chris Ellis who have stayed with them for a while now.

Rain or Shine has demonstrated a lot of loyalty to its players with a whole bunch of them having played their entire careers with the club. They are led by captain Jireh Ibañes who didn’t have a great college career but has proven to be a steady one with this club as he has reinvented himself into a defensive specialist with lots of hops. Then there’s Ryan Araña, Gabe Norwood, TY Tang, Jervy Cruz, Jonathan Uyloan, Paul Lee, and Chris Tiu who have only known this team while in the PBA. Also logging more than three years with the Elasto Painters are Jeff Chan, Beau Belga, and JR Quiñahan.

The Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters are another team like RoS with loads of long-tenured players. They are led by 12-year veterans Jimmy Alapag and Harvey Carey. They have seven-year players Jason Castro and Ranidel De Ocampo. Ryan Reyes, Kelly Williams, Larry Fonacier, and Aaron Aban who have been with the team for seasons now.

The GlobalPort Batang Pier, tied with TNT with a 4-3 record, are the team that is an exception as the club is only in its third year in the league. With a coaching staff and line-up constantly in flux, it’s hard to peg them. But they do have loads of PBA vets who know how to get the job done. But let’s see how they hold off the Purefoods Star Hot Shots who look to have found their championship groove.

And the Star Hot Shots are another squad with long-tenured players beginning with James Yap and PJ Simon who know of no other PBA team other than the one they play for. They are followed by nine-year club vet Marc Pingris and Rafi Reavis, Mark Barroca and Joe Devance.

In a chat with Alaska Aces head coach Alex Compton prior to tip-off of the PBA’s 40th Season, he told me that the team decided to keep the bulk of the squad that helped win their 14th title together. “We feel we have a good team with very good pieces to win another championship. We want to keep it together for a bit and see if we can go on another run. If we keep adding or changing to the roster, there will be chemistry problems and re-learning the system or the culture of what we want to introduce.”

That Aces line-up, although with Luigi Trillo as head coach, has one PBA title to their name. The Beermen haven’t won with this current line-up but Arwind Santos won one with Petron Blaze under then head coach Ato Agustin.

Barangay Ginebra San Miguel is another team that hasn’t won yet with this current line-up.

RoS has owns title with this squad under head coach Yeng Guiao. “It has helped that we’ve been together for a while now,” admits Gabe Norwood who also says there’s no sign of slacking off especially with the still fiery Guiao after all these years at the helm. “No. Not at all. Not with coach around! (laughs) We’re always looking to win another championship.”

Talk ‘N Text has won five crowns under coaches Chot Reyes and Norman Black. So current taskmaster Jong Uichico is following some mean footsteps. And of course, we all know what the Purefoods teams has won in recent years with this lineup (although under the brand names of B-Meg and San Mig Coffee).


We will take a look at the next tier teams in our next column.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

My suggestions for Pilipinas' national team head coach



This appears on the PBA's website.

My suggestions for national team head coach
by rick olivares

The search on for the new head coach for the national basketball team and Gilas Pilipinas consultant Tab Baldwin is one of the contenders (I won’t extol his Curriculum vitae here because that has been written much about of late but suffice to say I think he’s a great candidate too).

Another candidate who should be in the discussion is Norman Black. That of course depends on his availability since he just joined Meralco. If the MVP Group of companies is going to allow him a sabbatical from the PBA club, then he should be considered and I’d wholeheartedly recommend him given his recent accomplishments with Ateneo and Talk ‘N Text as well as his participation in Gilas Pilipinas! Like Baldwin there is familiarity and continuity!

I realize of course that maybe we should go in a different direction with a different feel to the squad in its approach for the simple reason that anyone who comes in anywhere wants to put his stamp on things rather than pick up from where the former left off.

And so I would like to recommend two other men for the job.

They are Tim Cone and Franz Pumaren.

Why Tim Cone?
For one, he just won a PBA Grand Slam. In fact, he owns two of them. And he owns the record for the most number of championships in the pros.

Second, he coached the national team to a gold in the William Jones Cup and a bronze in the Asian Games in 1998. That year might be an eternity as international basketball has changed somewhat since that time but that is why you need a full time coach – so he can get acclimated right away. And Coach Tim is no rookie who needs to get his feet wet. He will hit the ground running.

He’s been in the league long enough that everyone knows him and vice versa. His players swear by him and will respond to him. One pro who just recently suited up for him and is now with a another team said that he was shocked to compare the difference in training between his old and new coach. With his current club, he has to volunteer to do more while with Cone, it was… like boot camp. All the time. That of course, is not meant in the derogatory sense. In that player’s mind, it was a massive plus.

In a recent and lengthy interview with Coach Tim, he said that the only time he would consider coaching the national team is if San Miguel Corporation boss Ramon Ang allows him. I realize that would mean leaving Purefoods because coaching the national team is a full time job but this is just too delicious not to entertain given the resources the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas pours in support for the nationals.

I’d say there is no finer coach at the moment who should be patrolling that sidelines for the country. I’d also venture to say that he reminds me of the United States’ Michael William "Mike" Krzyzewski not because they are both Americans but because of the values they espouse and they manner in which their comport themselves.

Now in the event Coach Tim cannot accept the job, the second man I believe is ripe for the position is… Franz Pumaren.

Why Coach Franz?
He knows about service for sure. Coach Franz not only played for the national team (and for five years with the fabled Northern Consolidated Cement squad) but he also has had international experience as a head coach albeit the RP Youth squad that competed in the Under-18 Seaba Championships.

As a hoops benchmaster, he is no stranger to turning squads around.

When he was tapped to coach La Salle in the UAAP, the team was known as the eternal bridesmaid to FEU and UST in the Finals. In his very first year with the Green Archers (coincidentally in 1998 the year Tim Cone was coach of the national squad), Pumaren knocked the monkey off DLSU’s back as they won it all. And he proceeded to win three more in succession and one more before he stepped down in 2009.

With the Air21 franchise in the PBA, Coach Franz eventually turned the squad around despite its many limitations (and let’s not kid ourselves because we know what they were) in his third year, as the Express became a tough nut for the upper echelon squads to crack.

I thought that Pumaren was a very innovative coach during his time in the UAAP. He sprang that dreaded press and made those staggered screens death traps for all who deigned to chase his shooters. He has an eye for talent and certainly knows about building programs.

What I loved about his latter Air21 teams was that they in some way resembled his old NCC team – a team composed of mostly young players just out of college. And they played great.

I believe that he has all the time to dedicate himself to the national team since Air21’s PBA franchise was sold to NLEX.

Now if everyone is in a tizzy over whom to select, hear me out. The cool thing is – you can have Coach Tab as team consultant (because of his vast international experience and exposure), Coach Tim as head coach, and Coach Franz as his top assistant. It still is a win-win situation for Philippine basketball!



Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Debunking myths on the presence of foreign players in the UAAP

I wanted to submit this in one of the sites I write for but it just too long. And I didn't want it chopped up or even edited for its message. I wanted it out there in its entire length.

Debunking myths on the presence of foreign players in the UAAP
by rick olivares

I just heard from a couple of UAAP Board Members that they are leaning towards limiting slots of foreign athletes to one per team. That topic will be tabled for discussion by the season’s end.

I applaud the league from the departure from their initial thoughts of a blanket ban on foreign athletes to a more sensible stand.

Nevertheless, that begs the question: where exactly do they stand with regards to these foreign athletes?

First and foremost before we dissect that, let it be known that this is once more a basketball issue (most especially the influx of African student-athletes) that has affected every other sport. With the arms race for a basketball championship escalating, teams will not stop at putting up a super team.

Let’s tackle the so-called arguments for the removal or ban on foreign players.

Argument #1 They take away slots from local players.

Argument debunker: In a UAAP basketball team there are 16 slots. In a UAAP football team there are 18. You mean to say that one or two foreign players of take away slots? For as long as there have been athletic teams, there are players who get cut for various reasons: he wasn’t that good, he wasn’t the favorite, or he had poor grades.

Any player recruited is deemed to be important to the cause of winning a championship. Not every player – foreign or local – develops immediately. Some take years before their game finally matures and they become of any use. If the foreign player were said to be the “meal ticket” then since 2008 when this current wave of African players finally reached the UAAP shores, why has there only been one team to win a title with an African?

In Season 77, four teams listed foreigners on their squad – NU, FEU, UE, and UST. La Salle, Ateneo, Adamson, and UP didn’t field any foreign players.

Of the Final Four squads, two were without reinforcements. That they did not make it isn’t entirely because the opponents made massive use of their foreign players. You will be hard pressed to find that argument in the La Salle-FEU series.

Ateneo’s loss boiled down to execution and the fact that they really lacked the ceiling to begin with.

According to Imperium Technology, the outfit that tracks stats in UAAP competition, in the category of the “Top 20 Players Who Played the Most Minutes,” only one is a foreigner.

Top 20 Minutes Played
1.    Ravena, Kiefer (ADMU) - 35.20
2.    Vosotros, Almond (DLSU) - 32.76
3.    Gallarza, Rey (UP) - 32.70
4.    Teng, Jeron (DLSU) - 31.36
5.    Rios, Jansen (ADU) - 31.24
6.    Newsome, Chris (ADMU) - 30.78
7.    Elorde, Nico (ADMU) - 30.19
8.    Trollano, Celedonio (ADU) - 30.06
9.    Alolino, Angelo (NU) - 30.01
10. Abdul, Karim (UST) - 29.99
11. Tolomia, Mike (FEU) - 29.22
12. Khobuntin, Glenn (NU) - 28.58
13. Ferrer, Kevin (UST) - 28.17
14. Rosario, Jeth (NU) - 28.12
15. Perkins, Jason (DLSU) - 27.31
16. Belo, Mark (FEU) - 27.13
17. Inigo, Alejandrino (FEU) - 26.87
18. Mariano, Aljon (UST) - 26.70
19. Vigil, Louie  (UST) - 26.54
20. Juruena, Mark (UP) - 26.01

For the champion NU Bulldogs, they leaned heavily on Cameroonian Alfred Aroga and Henri Betayene to man the five-spot. Their only other options were Tristan Perez who after some strong showings in Season 76 sort of regressed a bit (that was evident in the D-League from last season) and JP Cauilan who is still raw for the college game.

You will be surprised to know that Aroga played the fourth most minutes behind Gelo Alolino, Troy Rosario, and Glenn Khobuntin. Betayene logged the eighth most minutes for a NU player.  

For FEU, American center Anthony Hargrove logged the sixth most minutes of all Tamaraws. Yep. Sixth. Right behind Mike Tolomia, Mac Belo, Achi Iñigo, Carl Cruz, and Roger Pogoy (who came off the bench).

Playing the slot, he was backed up by Russell Escoto, Raymar Jose, Reeve Usgang, and sometimes, Cruz. I felt it was Hargrove’s inconsistency during the finals that did the Tamaraws in. There was no one up front who could match up against the Bulldogs’ Alfred Aroga. Escoto wasn’t his old self after getting knocked out with a knee injury two years ago. Jose plays with a lot of heart and has some moves but is still not yet polished.

This was the first time since Season 71 since the current wave of African players began playing in the UAAP that a school won with a reinforcement. It is a marked and pronounced difference from the NCAA where the lack of parity has really swung the title race the way of San Beda for the past decade now.

Looking at UE, Moustapha Arafat didn’t do as expected in his maiden season with the Red Warriors. He had problems guarding players out in the wing. If he was set in the middle he did fine. Charles Mammie, in his second year at UE played well in the second round and was a big reason why they nearly made it to the Final Four. And guess, what… Mammie logged only the fifth most minutes on the team.

Bong Galanza, Roi Sumang, Paul Varilla, and Chris Javier played more minutes than Mammie.

But get this (according once more to the official statisticians), UE outscored their opponent by a total of 132 points through 15 games when Mammie is on the court while the Red Warriors outscored their opponent by 82 points when Javier is on the court.

I don’t think that UE’s Derek Pumaren plays favorites. He plays who he believes will get the job done without predilection towards stars or race.

Argument #2 These foreign players were recruited to play.

Argument Debunker: You mean to say that (no offense to all the players mentioned but you must read this right and in its proper context) Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng, Troy Rosario, Mac Belo, Roi Sumang and everyone else WERE NOT RECRUITED TO PLAY?

Oh, he plays for the Adamson Falcons because he’s a whiz in Algebra! He suits up for UST because he’s going to be a nuclear physicist.

Find me one student-athlete who was recruited first for their academic know-how before their athletic skills. In any sport. Across the board and through the years. FIND. ME. ONE.

If they do not go to class then that is a school’s own look out.

And when one suits up for a school, regardless of where they come from or what their religion, race or background is… THEY REPRESENT THEIR SCHOOL AND NOT A COUNTRY. When our Filipino plays in the Asean Basketball League, unless they play for a Philippine club then they represent the team from another country. You cannot have rules for one and another set for another.

That’s a very racist approach and let’s be very clear about that.

And if there are issues about their eligibility then the burden of proof lies upon the screening committee to debunk them and punish the erring parties involved.

Argument #3 They prevent local players from developing.

Argument debunker: Most of these foreigners play the center slot because of their height. The current wave of African players arrived in Season 71 with FEU’s Pippo Noundou. Let’s correlate that data with centers who played in the UAAP and were drafted in the PBA.

Year
UAAP Centers drafted into PBA 1st Round
Still playing today?
2009
 Japeth Aguilar
Rico Maierhofer
Yes for both
2010
Rabeh Al-Hussaini
Pari Llagas
No. Al-Hussaini opted to play abroad while Llagas is in the D-League
2011
NONE
NONE
2012
NONE
NONE
2013
Greg Slaughter
Justin Chua
Yes.
2014
Rodney Brondial
Yes
·      Only for first rounders because a second round pick is a crapshoot.

In Season 76, Rodney Brondial switched from center to power forward when Ingrid Sewa was on the floor. He slid back to the middle when the big man was on the bench. Brondial learned to play with Sewa and developed a better outside shot; one he uses to devastating effect with Barangay Ginebra in the PBA today.

In contrast, then UE head coach Boycie Zamar felt that Chris Javier did not adjust to the presence of Charles Mammie even if he could hit the outside shot.

And if you look back at the data I presented earlier about plus and minuses when Mammie and Javier are on the floor, the answer is obvious.

Furthermore, since Season 71, there has only been one champion that featured an African player – National University.

And if you follow the PBA, you will know that many of the celebrated stars in college do not stay very long much less are given playing time. Some of the players who played well in the slot in college are too small for PBA standards. Not when you have behemoths like Slaughter, JuneMar Fajardo, Raymond Almazan, Ian Sangalang, Asi Taulava, Japeth Aguilar and company patrolling that lane. Reil Cervantes who was a star center-forward for FEU was on the bench for Ginebra before disappearing. If there was no expansion club to pick him up in Kia, then I am not sure if he’d be back in the PBA.

La Salle’s talented power forward Jason Perkins told me that size-wise, he’s too small to play the four-spot in the PBA. He will have to slide to the three and that is why he has to work on his outside shot and driving skills.

Ranidel De Ocampo thrives because in addition to posting up and attacking the basket, he can shoot from the outside. Marc Pingris gets by because of his veteran smarts and hustle. But life in the shaded lane is tough because of the presence of these giants.

I believe that the problem with the Filipino center is the lack of size, athleticism, and quality at the same time. Isn’t that why we naturalized players like Dennis Still, Marcus Douthit and Andray Blatche because we didn’t have anyone to fill that slot?

In the 1990s, when people were up in arms about the presence of Fil-Americans playing in the PBA there were all sorts of rules about the number of Fil-Ams. But they arguably improved the league much more than the imports ever did. They significantly raised the level of play to the point that the homegrown players got better.

If you look at Gilas Pilipinas and their 2013 FIBA Asia Championships stint, how many were Fil-Ams? Gabe Norwood are Jimmy Alapag are the only two. That’s a far cry from the 2007 squad that listed Danny Seigle, Alapag, Asi Taulava, Kelly Williams, Gabe Norwood, Mick Pennisi, Jayjay Helterbrand, and Erick Menk.

Argument #4 The foreign player in the UAAP is an offshoot of the NCAA going wild on this.

Argument debunker: One can say that San Beda pushed this into overdrive as they found their way back into the championship picture when they brought in Sam Ekwe.

But there was one year when they went All-Filipino and still won the NCAA title so that argument doesn’t hold much water.

The best answer for the woes is – San Beda simply has a better and well-funded basketball program now and many of their best players opt to move to the more glamorous UAAP (aminin na natin at huwag na tayo magkunwari).

With all due respect, I found myself shaking my head that UP’s Ronnie Dizer proposed the removal of foreign players after lining up Alinko Mbah a few years ago and just recently, Moriah Gingerich. And early in this new millennium, didn’t the Fighting Maroons also had another foreign player in Brazilian Rob Bornancin?

I wonder if it is because Mbah didn’t pan out while Jean Mbe, Christian Sentcheu, Pippo Noundou, Anthony Hargrove, and Karim Abdul have all stayed long with their respective colleges.

This isn’t a unique situation for the UAAP. You see, foreign players have been plying their trade in the UAAP for as long as the league has been around.

In the 1970s, the UST football team featured a Spanish striker in Joaquin Valdez. He is incidentally a priest now at the Dominican School. He led the Glowing Goldies to some UAAP titles. And those mid-1980s teams also had a few Middle Eastern footballers on the squad.

In the early 1980s, Anthony Williams was enrolled at FEU and he led the Tamaraws to several basketball titles. Several years ago, FEU’s football squad had a Korean midfielder several years ago in Sean Lee.

Former UP football player Stephen Lu says that in the early 1980s, there was an Italian student who nearly joined the Fighting Maroons. They also played a FEU team that had a few foreigners. But it was no big deal then and Lu doesn’t see why it should now.

In its first year in the UAAP, Ateneo fielded American center Kenny Wendling who only played in the first round. And there was Australian Zion Laterre and Americans by way of Faith Academy in Kirk Long and Vince Burke. Recently, the Ateneo Men’s Track and Field Team included Nigerian Itunu Kuku who won a couple of gold medals in Season 73. His father was a diplomat assigned to the Philippines.

The University of the East teams of the early new millennium had 6’8” Somalian Omar Ali but in spite of that, the Red Warriors, did not win a title. La Salle were the champions during those years. UE didn’t even make the Finals at all. And speaking of UE, when they hosted the opening program of Season 77, there were a couple of foreign students who took part in the palabas.

And there are more that I can list but that would be belaboring the obvious.

Let’s get this straight… foreign students have long been a part of our local schools and colleges. The University Belt has long been no stranger to their presence. And now with partnerships and exchange-student programs blossoming, they have also become a sizable presence in the top schools.

Can we be crass and postulate that, “pwede sila sa opening program pero pag-game time hindi na pwede?”

Nevertheless, does the presence of foreign players guarantee a title or a gold medal?

Not at all.

There is no proof. Until they scoop up every single award and dominate every single statistical category then there is nothing to back up such claim of their dominance or overwhelming superiority.

Let’s back track…

When Fr. Valdez played for UST, you have to remember he was one of 11 players suiting up for the Goldies. One cannot use the Leo Messi argument because as the fates of Barcelona and Argentina will show, it is about team play (Messi wins with Barca because they have top players while Argentina, even with Messi up front has not won anything).

The FEU teams of Anthony Williams? He played alongside Bai Cristobal, Rey Lazaro, and Joel Valle who all went on to the PBA.

We yearn to be accepted on an international stage. We send our sons and daughters abroad to find their fortune. Conversely, when you think about it, they take away jobs from the locals. How would we feel if they sent Filipinos home? The sarcastic will say their countries will fall apart because they need foreign workers and domestic helpers etc. Uh. That’s a fallacy right there.

Even people from distant lands with an ounce of Filipino blood we claim and co-opt for our own (not even thinking that they are also citizens of other countries).  We naturalize players like Dennis Still, Jeff Moore, Chip Engeland, Marcus Douthit, and Andray Blatche but disallow them from playing in the PBA.

We play the globalization game yet are backward in our thinking when it comes to policies.

A solution to this “issue”
My recommendation for a solution?

We already have the two foreigners in the lineup rule with one to play at any give time. What is wrong with that?

Oh, guys like Charles Mammie are way too tall for locals to deal with them. Er, Greg Slaughter was seven feet tall and he won three titles in Cebu with the University of Visayas and two with Ateneo. Did anyone deal with him?

How about Arnold Van Opstal? The dude is freaking tall and if you didn’t watch out, he was going to dunk on you. And he did lead La Salle to the Season 76 championship.

If height truly makes might then if they want, put a cap on the height of the reinforcements. Say, no one taller than 6’6” or 6'7". After all, I do believe that when you go up against superior competition, you get better. Ask Gilas Pilipinas.

Or you could limit the roster to one foreign player. That would seem equitable for the schools that do not have large programs.

But a ban? That is in the light of globalization and the lack of proof otherwise that shows we have such a backward way of thinking. Let's keep an open mind with regards to this issue.