WITH the NCAA deciding to implement a complete ban on foreign student athletes starting 2020, not a few believe it will also spell the end of San Beda’s dynasty.
The Red Lions' enlisting of Nigerian big man Sam Ekwe back in 2006 not only ended the school’s 28-year title drought but also kickstarted a streak of 10 championships over the next 12 seasons with help from Ola Adeogun and Donald Tankoua.
Coach Boyet Fernandez, however, is unfazed, firm in his belief that San Beda is prepared for whatever is thrown its way.
“San Beda is ready for that option na walang import and I’m pretty sure that San Beda will always be on top of our game. We’ll always be stepping up our game now that two years from now, wala na yung mga import. We’ll find a way,” he said.
Although he’s willing to abide by the NCAA management committee's decision, it doesn’t mean that Fernandez agrees with the ruling.
The veteran mentor said he has seen how foreign players helped in developing local players.
“I’ve been a coach in the D-League, in the pros, and in the schools, and I can say that it’s really beneficiary for all the Filipino players na may import. Bakit? Because it will really help them a lot in terms of their improvement as a player,” he said.
“Iba talaga kung may bumabantay sa iyo na malaki rin eh. It can improve you in your future career as a basketball player.”
“If you look further, mas made-develop yung Filipino players if they can play with other bigger imports. Tandaan natin ang PIlipino hindi masyadong malaki, so kung malaki ka talaga advantage sa iyo yun, di ba? Pero kung may malaki kang makakalaban na mas mag-iimprove ka, it’s better for us.”
Fernandez rattled off the names of young guys like Kai Sotto and Carl Tamayo who he said can be toughened by games against foreign players, both in the UAAP and NCAA,
The champion coach also moved to erase the notion that the foreign student-athletes took scholarship opportunities away from homegrown players.
“Filipinos will say na nakukuhanan naman sila ng scholarship. But for us, come to San Beda. We’ll give you a scholarship kung talagang you’re worth to be part of that,” he said.
“Ang sa amin naman, hindi namin minamaltrato yung mga Pilipino. We’re accepting Filipinos who are really worthy to be part of our team and know our system.”
Though frustrated with how things were handled, Fernandez sa San Beda will follow the decision like a good soldier.
“Again, it’s the decision of the board, and for us in San Beda, we’ll always follow it,” he said.