THIS early, the Asian reinforcement program of the PBA, an innovation introduced by PBA chairman Patrick Gregorio, has been getting the thumbs up from some league big wigs.
GlobalPort Batang Pier team owner Mikee Romero lauded the move, saying the Asian integration will further bring Filipino cagers closer to the attention of other major leagues in the world.
“This is like opening up the whole PBA to Asian and world basketball. Imagine with (Omar) Krayem, we now have Palestinian and Middle Eastern fans,” said Romero of GlobalPort's Palestinian import.
“It is like opening the PBA to the international world. Suddenly PBA teams will have a bigger audience of fans such as Palestinian, Iranian, Japanese, Mongolian, etc ... This marketing strategy is a stroke of genius,” he added.
Romero also likened the program to how European players began invading the NBA in the mid-90’s.
“This (Asian integration) can truly provide the needed attention to our players, which I know are not lagging behind in terms of basketball skills. Kasi nakikita ng mundo lalo ngayon ang PBA because they monitor foreign players here,” he said.
“Similar situation when the NBA opened up to the European players. Direct hire din ang style ng NBA in the 90’s, the time when Tony Kukoc transferred from the Euro League to the NBA, which opened the NBA to the world,” Romero stressed.
The Sultan 900 Incorporated big boss is optimistic that the league will benefit from the wider audience reach and more dynamic fanbase.
“Same ang mage-gain ng PBA (sa ginawa ng NBA). We are now opening our league to a more global and worldwide fan base,” he said.
“Through this program, the PBA is opening up the league gates to fans and audiences that are not even Filipinos. We need to widen the audience reach of the PBA. Hindi na lang Pilipino ang sumusubaybay,” he said, citing the coverage of Fox Sports Network of the league's games.
The youthful Filipino business tycoon also believes the Asian import innovation proved beneficial to other young teams in the PBA as they are ‘able to plug the holes in their respective rosters’.
“The Asian imports fill the void in our teams. Krayem plugging a big hole makes us a better running team,” he said.
Aside from Krayem, other Asian imports that play side by side with the mandatory Governors’ Cup reinforcements are Sanchir Tungalag (Ginebra), Jet Chang (Kia), Seiya Ando (Meralco), Michel Madanly (NLEX) and Sam Daghles (Talk n Text).
Other teams have opted not to hire Asian imports, although San Miguel coach Leo Austria has bared he has changed his mind and will be on the lookout for one.