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To ban or not to ban foreigners in NCAA

Collegiate basketball will soon be starting with the UAAP and the NCAA of course getting the bigger attention even as a lot of people would say that the NCAA now pales in comparison to the UAAP, citing league popularity and the fact that most of the exclusive schools are already in the UAAP after bolting the NCAA.

But that is not the topic I would like to dwell on for this piece, but rather the news that came out from the NCAA.

According to Frank Cusi, the league’s management committee chairman, no foreign players will be allowed to play in the coming season regardless if they have playing years still left — a decision that was made last season and for implementation this year.

Basic objective is to level the playing field, according to the policy makers, and citing the fact that foreign players are dominating the league as evidenced in the awarding of the NCAA Mythical Five two seasons ago when only one local player — Jio Jalalon — was included. They also cited that because of the roles these foreign players do for the team, centers most of the time, and extended playing time, when it comes to MVP selection, they will always have the edge come recognition time.

Others who weighed in said local biggies cannot develop or have very limited chances of improving because they hardly play at all. Some say these players are just mercenaries playing for money and not really after education. Remember the La Salle player who was recruited to play in a commercial league abroad and left his team even as he still had a playing year left?

But on the other side, there are those who insist that local bigs can only improve if they play against better players, citing the case of Letran’s Raymond Almazan who led a pure Filipino team to the NCAA crown in 2015 and he now plays in the PBA. He admitted he got better playing against foreign imports, but then in his case, the fact that Letran played pure Filipino gave him that opportunity to hone his game with extended playing time on the court. San Sebastian actually won a title even without a foreign player in 2009.

This topic will always have two sides to consider and I would like to weigh in on this.

For one, I know for a fact that foreign players, particularly in the UAAP and those playing for big schools, get big allowances plus a condo unit to stay at and cars. I am not sure, but then how can you convince them in the first place to come here if you do not promise them something substantial that goes beyond a college diploma? I do not think that these players will be attracted at all by a diploma in the first place.

When they play here, I believe education is not the primary reason but to play basketball, hoping to also improve their game and move forward to other leagues in the future. From the point of view of players, there is nothing wrong, but where I am not comfortable is the big and rich schools will always have the edge when it comes to recruiting foreign players as they have more funds to use — a fact that applies even for local players

There is a cute saying, all men are born equal, but there are men who are more equal than others. This is true for the schools who can afford to spend and those who cannot.

And I know that when schools get in touch with agents or people they know abroad, what they give are the qualifications not for a student but for the players they need. That alone will validate my point that foreign players come here not because of the education they will get.

Those for maintaining foreign players here will counter that it is not the school’s fault that they have more funds for sports, that they have more moneyed alumni interested in supporting their alma mater’s basketball team. That is true, no argument with that.

So should the question be, it may be legal but not necessarily right but then right also has different definitions depending on who is explaining what is right, right?

In short, the NCAA policy board has made its decision that they think is right and that others may see as wrong and insist that a ban is not the answer but more regulations. But then, there are already a lot of regulations in place but these regulations cannot address the fact that a foreign player in a school league will be getting long playing time and local centers will have limited playing time.

And whether all the schools like it or not, they need to toe the line and as far as the NCAA policy board is concerned, that is all that matters.

Final question, what is my stand on the matter?

I am still trying to resolve in my mind, ha ha ha.

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