TOKYO – More players want to play as Asian imports in the PBA.
Chito Narvasa said more Japanese players have expressed interest in playing in Asia’s first ever play-for-pay league following the stint of former national player Seiya Ando with Meralco in the season-ending Governors Cup.
The league commissioner got wind of the heightened interest during his meeting with Basketball Japan League (bj league) counterpart Toshimitsu Kawachi during a break in the annual planning session of the PBA board here.
They Said It!
“PHL basketball is now a dream to follow for Asian imports after we gave the world a grand return to the stage performance last year." - @S0mEonE_SpEciaL
Narvasa said Japanese players became very receptive to appearances with any of the 12 member teams since the PBA opened its doors to Asian imports last year.
“Naging maganda (yung feedback) nung naglaro si Ando, kumalat yata,” Narvasa told mediamen. “Sinasabi nila kung itutuloy natin, maraming gustong mag-apply na Japanese.”
During its planning session, the board agreed to continue with the concept broached by former chairman Patrick Gregorio last season, although it remains optional for teams to hire Asian imports or not.
A total of six teams tapped Asian imports last year, including the Bolts who signed up Ando, the 22-year-old former member of the Japanese Under-18 national team.
Other Asian players who saw action include Jiwan Kim and Sanchir Tungalag (Ginebra), Omar Krayem (GlobalPort), Jet Chang (Kia), Sam Daghles (Talk N Text), and Michael Madanly (NLEX).
San Miguel, Alaska, Rain or Shine, Star, Barako, and Blackwater were the teams which opted not to tap Asian imports.
They Said It!
“We should just allow 2 imports, asian or not. Pag nakakabangga ng international player mga pinoy, it would push their game to a higher level. Consider na din natin ang international coaches, especially European coaches. An international level coach would benefit the Pinoy ballers highly." - Larrene Mesa
The Japan league certainly looks forward to sending more players to the PBA.
“Sabi ko do it,” said Narvasa. “If you could course it to the PBA, we will distribute it (list of Japanese players) among teams. Kaya tinatanong nila ang schedule natin so they can adjust. So maganda ang nangyari dun.”
The PBA commissioner said plans are now being made on how both leagues can sustain the young partnership that took roots from the Asian import concept.
“Tinitingnan naming how we can do a common project. Siguro exchange muna, tapos laban-laban ng mga teams. Or maybe we can come up with an Asian championship or a pocket tournament,” said Narvasa, adding chairman Robert Non has already made a commitment to support the program.