JAPETH Aguilar figured in a controversy early in his PBA career when he indicated his desire to play full-time for the Smart Gilas team of coach Rajko Toroman, just days after Burger King picked him first overall in the 2009 PBA Rookie Draft.
The sudden change of heart sparked a wild two months for the pro league, the mother club, and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) as the parties tried to strike a compromise before the PBA season started in October.
Eventually, a resolution was met in which Aguilar played one game with the Whoppers of Yeng Guiao before being traded to the Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters, who in turn loaned the 6-foot-9 beanpole to the Smart Gilas national team.
It was an unprecedented move back then, but a chapter the SBP and the PBA can look back on - and, more importantly, learn from - especially in trend of Filipino players packing their bags and chasing their dreams abroad.
There's a lesson there that communication holds the key. Those parties sat down and talked to find a common ground, and eventually settled on the concept of a loan agreement.
Sa Tagalog, pautang.
It's a solution that has weirdly been left unpursued by the powers-that-be today that, quite honestly, could have averted the controversies they have found itself in, from the Ray Parks holdout to the Kiefer Ravena transfer saga to Jordan Heading's sudden decision to play in Taiwan's new pro league.
Loan deals aren't a foreign idea to sports fans, with such practice usually being done in top-level football.
It works like this: Player A of Team X is loaned to Team Y. Team Y will pay Team X a certain amount of money for the use of Player A. This money could be used by Team X to sign another player to make up for the absence of Player A.
Of course, applying it to the Philippine setting is a little trickier. But it can work.
Let's take Kiefer Ravena, for example.
What happened was, NLEX, its hands basically tied, grudgingly agreed to release Ravena to the Shiga Lakestars, on the condition that he will play for the Road Warriors again when he returns to the PBA.
Under a loan deal, NLEX can release Ravena to Shiga, on the condition that the Lakestars compensate the Road Warriors for the usage of "The Phenom." T he terms of his return to the PBA can also be detailed in the loan deal.
The same could've applied for Parks.
Instead of announcing on social media that he was 'taking a break,' Parks could have simply signed the maximum deal offered by TNT, which, in turn, could've struck a sign-and-loan deal with the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins.
In such a scenario, Parks could've had a smoother transfer to the Japan B.League and not burned his bridges with the MVP-owned franchise and the PBA.
Such loan deals can save all the parties a lot of headache: the overseas clubs get the player, the PBA team gets compensated while still keeping the player's rights. No ugly media firestorm. All they needed basically was to sit down and talk.
Of course, Heading's situation is different since he is tied down to a contract with the SBP and not Terrafirma, which made him first pick overall in the regular PBA draft of 2021. The Dyip merely holds his rights in the PBA.
The SBP has protested Heading's signing with the Taichung Suns of the new T1 League, submitting a letter to both Fiba and the Taiwan federation. But the Suns have defiantly stood by the Heading signing despite the Philippine protest.
SBP's protest is understandable, considering it stands to lose not just Heading but other members of the Gilas pool if the Taiwan deal is upheld by Fiba. That would leave Tab Baldwin without a pool of players to bank on in the next international windows.
But if SBP can strike a loan deal with Taichung, it can be compensated for the move and, more importantly, dictate the terms of the move to make sure Heading will be made available for how long Gilas needs him in every Fiba window.
Problem solved. No drama.
Now, if only the parties can sit down to talk.
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