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    Here are overseas leagues where Filipino prospects can spread their wings

    May 4, 2021
    Dwight Ramos, Juan Gomez de Liaño, and Lebron Lopez are among those who have the potential to play overseas.
    PHOTO: Fiba.basketball | Marlo Cueto

    KAI Sotto and Thirdy Ravena aren't the exception, they're now the norm as the world is now truly within reach for Filipino players.

    Over the past year, we've seen Filipino talents grab opportunities and spread their wings, hoisting the country's flag high and proud abroad.

    Just some of those who have include Ken Tuffin, who is in New Zealand, and Kobe Paras, who is trying his luck in the United States.

    It's more evident for the women, with Jack Animam playing as an import in Taiwan and following the footsteps of the likes of Allana Lim and Afril Bernardino as reinforcements internationally.

    And with more exemplary players coming up, it's hard to doubt the fair assessment of Sotto's agent Joel Bell that he expects more Filipinos to fly out in overseas leagues soon.

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    Just some of those upstarts who pose great potential include Dwight Ramos, Juan Gomez de Liaño, and Lebron Lopez.

    But the more pressing question for these prospects is where to go?

    Sotto will certainly open doors and eyes Down Under after signing with the Adelaide 36ers under the Special Restricted Players rule in the Australian National Basketball League (NBL).

    The rule, introduced in the 2016-17 season, allows NBL clubs to enlist an Asian player to their rosters without them being counted as one of the two imports. Some of the players who availed this rule were Japanese stars Makoto Hiejima and Yudai Baba.

    It's not hard to imagine more Filipinos exploring this route, all the more with the appeal of the NBL presenting itself as a viable path to the NBA and is now considered as one of the top leagues in the world today.

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    Also, with Australia now competing in Fiba Asia, exposing Filipinos to this competition should certainly close the gap between the two nations in international competitions.

    The same could also be said for the Japanese B.League, with Ravena being a trailblazer in his own right with his signing with San-En NeoPhoenix under the Asian Players Quota initiative.

    The rule, which was introduced in November last year, gives permission to B.League clubs to sign any player from the Philippines, China, Korea, Chinese Taipei, and Indonesia.

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    Like in the NBL, the Asian player will not be considered as an import and will not have any restrictions playing alongside the team's two other imports, the same way naturalized Japanese players enjoy free reins to play in the league.

    The Korean Basketball League (KBL) has the same provision, although as of the moment, the partnership is only limited to Japanese players.

    Going Stateside, the newly formed Overtime Elite (OTE) also poses an intriguing option for young stars, with the league calling itself "a transformative new sports league that offers the world’s most talented young basketball players a better pathway to becoming professional athletes."

    The set-up is much the same with that of the NBA G League Ignite team, although OTE is geared towards the top high school juniors and seniors globally, with them set to "compete both within the league and in external competitions against international teams."

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    OTE was launched last April, but the league has yet to release the final pertinent details on its staging.

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    Still, the league is an intriguing path to take for young prospects, especially those based in North America.

    But there is one last option for players who really are intent on playing internationally: going pro.

    It's a harder challenge to hurdle, but Filipino players have proven themselves to be capable in playing professionally overseas.

    Stanley Pringle, Christian Standhardinger, and Matthew Wright are just some of the players who tried their luck and thrived abroad as they competed in European leagues in the past.

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    The same could be said for Rabeh Al-Hussaini, who balled out in Palestine in 2014 in his brief departure from the PBA.

    And of course, the names of Jeff Viernes, Leo Avenido, and Jason Brickman have already reached legendary status as they played as reinforcements in leagues around Southeast Asia in the past decade.

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      Actually, local leagues in Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam have actually started in the middle of this global COVID-19 pandemic and it's not hard to imagine Filipino players making an impact there as imports.

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      Truly, the possibilities are endless for up-and-coming Filipino talents and it's up to them to seize the opportunity.
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      Dwight Ramos, Juan Gomez de Liaño, and Lebron Lopez are among those who have the potential to play overseas.
      PHOTO: Fiba.basketball | Marlo Cueto
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