Pages: PBA v B. League – SUNSTAR

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Shaq said it best: “I’m sick of hearing about money, money, money, money, money. I just wanna play the game, drink Pepsi, wear Reebok.

Still the funny man, the 7-foot-1 member of the NBA’s top 75 list is right.

Sport is entertainment and entertainment means dollars.

The Philippine Basketball Association is currently in a dilemma. Founded in 1975, the PBA is the oldest professional basketball league in Asia and the second oldest in the world (alongside the NBA, born in 1946).

The PBA has a money problem. Of course, the league has 12 ball clubs belonging to the largest conglomerates in the country. But, not thanks to the salary cap of the PBA, some are not paid enough which leads to exodus.

Kiefer Ravena. His younger brother Thirdy. There is Kobe Paras. What about Ray Parks Jr.? Then the Gomez brothers of Liano Javi and Juan. There’s Kemark Carino and the 6-foot-4 Fil-Am who was supposed to be one of the PBA’s most promising prospects, Dwight Ramos.

These eight athletes are no ordinary names. Many of them are UAAP idols with a torrent of social media followers. Benjie’s son Kobe Paras is a superstar in the making. All eight do not play in Manila but in Japan.

It’s called the B.League and, although recently founded in 2016, it has aggressively recruited big names from the international market.

Put simply, the Japanese Professional League is offering our stars (specifically, rookies) double or triple the money they would earn if they had to dress like NLEX point guard or Barangay Ginebra.

Take Thirdy Ravena and Ray Parks Jr. These are two-time UAAP MVPs that we’d love to see play at Araneta Coliseum or the Mall of Asia arena. Instead, Iloilo-born Ravena does not play for the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters but for San-en NeoPhoenix of the Japanese B League.

Bobby Ray Parks played with Blackwater Elite and TNT in Manila before heading north to prepare for the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins.

In the long run, this exodus of high caliber talent will continue to be a PBA problem. The world has become without borders. This pandemic has changed our outlook, even how we can quickly buy a product from China through Lazada or Shopee and have it delivered to our door in 12 days.

Ditto with our players. Whereas before they were stuck in the Philippine archipelago, who would prevent the professional leagues in South Korea or China from offering 1 million P per month when SMB can only give 450,000 P?

The other day I heard NBA commissioner Adam Silver say that 25% of NBA players are not Native Americans. Today, one in four foreigners in the NBA is a foreigner.

Globalization has created a planet without borders. Nothing prevents our talents from leaving and going to our Asian neighbors or to Europe or America.

Money, money, money. PBA ball clubs have more to offer. The problem is, I’m not sure about the 46-year-old league. And if the reputation of the PBA and its followers declines, the incentive for companies to spend more will also diminish.

It’s all about content. Is the PBA able to continue to provide exciting and energizing entertainment?


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