NLEX is exploring the possibility of bringing up American Kirk Long as a local player to the PBA if the team's application for membership in the professional league is approved.
Long, who was born in the Philippines to American parents and a longtime permanent resident, had earlier been given the nod by the PBA to suit up for NLEX in the D-League starting in 2012.
They Said It!
“It’s up to the (PBA Board) to approve. That’s what we can do. Alam naman natin na wala (si Kirk Long na na blood) line as Filipino but we will see." NLEX team manager Ronald Dularte
Team manager Ronald Dularte told Spin.ph NLEX is now pushing for Long to be given an exemption and be allowed to play in the PBA if the company gets the go-signal from the board to become an expansion team.
“Next in line namin ‘yan. Once ma-approve, concessions will follow, then ‘yung mga small things like that,” said Dularte, referring to the possibility of Long joining the PBA.
Dularte admitted that Long’s PBA bid is a tall talk since league rules are very clear that players without Filipino blood are not allowed to play in Asia's first professional cage league.
Dularte, however, is planning to approach the PBA teams themselves and present the case of Long who, he said, deserves to be given a shot at the pro league.
He added Long’s inclusion will not give NLEX an undue advantage in the league.
“It all depends dahil baka maging precedent ‘yan. May mga ganyang cases na before,” Dularte said. “What we can do siguro is ask not really the board but the teams themselves and present our case."
"It’s up to them to approve. That’s what we can do. Alam naman natin na wala siyang (blood) line as Filipino but we will see.”
NLEX’s bid to bring up Long to the PBA is similar to the case of Alex Compton, who also made a bid to play in the PBA as a local after suiting up in the Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA).
Compton, who like Long was born in the Philippines to American parents, did play in the PBA but as an import of Welcoat, now Rain or Shine, in 2007 and 2008 as he was not allowed by the league to play as a local.
Compton, now an assistant coach at Alaska in the PBA, was also allowed to play in the defunct Philippine Basketball League prior to his stint as an import in the PBA.
However, Dularte believes Long deserves a slot in the PBA
Long studied at Faith Academy in high school and played for the Ateneo Blue Eagles in college and has long been involved in charity work. He is also married to Filipina footballer Cristina Garcia.
“Unang-una, he was born here and dito na siya lumaki. Pangalawa, he helps a lot with the kids, hindi lang in terms of the aspect of basketball but in terms of ‘yung pakikipag-kapwa," said Dularte.