WONDERING why Jason Brickman and Jeremiah Gray are allowed to play in the PBA 3x3 tournament when they were actually considered ineligible in the recent PBA draft, and therefore couldn’t suit up in the regular 5-on-5 games?
As explained time and time again, the inaugural 3x3 tournament is adopting the same FIBA 3x3 rules which are less strict in terms of eligibility compared to the PBA's rules on Fil-foreigners.
All Fil-foreign players need to do in order to suit up for any of the PBA or guest teams is to present their authenticated Philippine passport and voila, the chance to play in Asia’s pioneering pro league is there.
“Basta may (Philippine) passport, okay na,” said 3x3 chairman Richard Bachmann of Alaska.
“With eligibility, the FIBA 3x3 rules will be followed. It’s lenient kasi kailangan lang ng passport. Kaya puwede naman yung mga Fil-Ams na hindi pa kumpleto yung papers,” he added.
That’s exactly the situation of both Brickman and Gray, who are holders of Philippine passports. They arrived in the country this week to play in the 3x3 meet the PBA will be launching simultaneously with its 46th season.
Brickman was signed to a one-year deal by Meralco while Gray got the same lucrative contract from the TnT Tropang Giga.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of the 5-on-5 game.
For Fil-foreign players wanting to apply for the rookie draft, carrying a Philippine passport isn't enough. One has to secure two crucial documents to be eligible as rookie applicants, namely a certification from the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and affirmation from the Department of Justice (DoJ).
Those two requirements were what Brickman and Gray, along with five other Fil-foreigners, failed to submit in time for the deadline for the draft applications, thus making them ineligible for this year’s draft proceedings.
In the wake of Brickman and the six other Fil-foreigners’ failure to comply with the requirements, calls were made to revisit the rules that had been in place for more than two decades already, which was adopted in the aftermath of the controversy surrounding the ‘Fil-sham’ issue.
No action has been made so far.
At the same time, the 3x3 tournament allows the direct hiring of players from the free agent list, those who failed to make the draft grade, or other pro players plying their trade in other leagues, paving the way for Brickman, Gray, and hopefully the others, to play in the standalone league.
Even then, suiting up in 3x3 doesn’t mean Brickman and Gray will be outright eligible to finally play in the regular PBA games by next season.
“That’s totally a separate thing. Just because they’re okay with PBA 3x3, okay na sa PBA 5-on-5,” said Bachman.
“It’s different,” added PBA board chairman Ricky Vargas. “Even in FIBA, there are two different tracks. One for 3x3, and the other is on 5-on-5. So we’d like to follow the FIBA track and policy, that’s what we want to do at the moment.”
Perhaps their longer stay in the country playing in the 3x3 would give Brickman and Gray the time to personally work on their eligibility papers.
Not unless the PBA board decides to do away with both the BI and DoJ documents and consider a Philippine passport good enough for Fil-foreign players to be considered in the rookie draft.