DAVAO – He’s a PBA legend who’s taking part in the PBA All-Star three-point shootout with a government official, but Kenneth Durmedes is also the commissioner of the fledgling Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) that has drawn flak for its controversial cap on Filipino-foreigners.
So there’s no escaping questions about the MPBL’s Fil-foreign player policy while he’s in a PBA event in the President’s hometown.
“Ang bottomline here is yung guidelines ng MPBL stays,” Duremdes insisted on Tuesday on the eve of the first leg of the All-Star week in Digos City, south of Davao. “Kung may naaapektuhang mga players, we’re very sorry.”
“But in every league or tournament, may kanya-kanya naman talagang guildelines and rules, so yun yung ginawa ni MPBL,” he added of the rule that limits each team to just one Fil-foreign player who stands no taller than 6-4. “Sinusunod lang din namin."
The rule implementation came on the heels of the Mandaluyong El Tigre's move to tap the services of Ray Parks Jr. and Lawrence Domingo, whose fathers are both American, with the MPBL requiring the team to choose between the two.
Duremdes, however, left the door open for changes to the controversial rule.
“I’m very sorry for those players na naapektuhan na alam natin ang feeling. Ako, player din, but sa ngayon lang naman yan eh,” the former PBA MVP said. “Hindi naman natin sinasabi na totally wala talaga sila and hindi pwede. In the future, kung yung liga natin maging stable (baka may pagbabago).”
“Just like any other league, ang PBA, I remember, naabutan ko pa yung 6-2 limit sa import eh, so meron yan (pagbabago),” he added. “Ngayon, lumalaki na yung mga player ng pro league, lumalaki na rin yung height ceiling ng imports. So yun din ang nakikita natin kasi it’s a growing league, so alam naman natin ang potential niya when it comes to developing homegrown talents.”
“But in the near future, sa mga upcoming seasons, may mga adjustments yan. Hindi yan naka-stuck lang sa isang ruling,” he continued.
Duremdes insisted that allowing one Fil-foreign player is already a gesture of fairness.
“I think there’s no discrimination at all dahil we’re allowing nga eh one Fil-foreign on each team, so iba yun na wala kang pinayagan,” Duremdes. “Iba yun na parang sinabi mong yung ligang ‘to ay para lang talaga sa mga taga dito.”
“At the same time, nilagyan lang natin siya ng height limit, again, para dun sa mga local and homegrown na makakakapg-compete, makaka-match up sa kanila,” he added. “Kasi kung bibigyan natin ng malaking advantage yung malalaki nating mga kababayan na mga Fil-foreign, eh baka yung competition hindi na maging balanced para dun sa ibang teams na walang mga Fil-foreign na makukuha.”
While his poise as a rookie commissioner is being tested, Durmedes will find out if he still has it as marksman in the legends shootout on Wednesday night.
“Last time was here also in Digos, so I’m excited. Hopefully, meron pang natitirang shooting touch without even practicing,” Duremdes said with a smile.