AGENT Matthew Manotoc has batted changes to the definition of a “Filipino-foreign” player as well as the limit on Fil-foreigners allowed per team, believing the current cap deprives the PBA and its clubs of having the best players.
The league limits teams to just five Fil-foreign players in their respective lineups, its rules classifying a player to already be Fil-foreign if he was born outside the Philippines, while it doesn’t consider a Filipino player with foreign blood to be Fil-foreign if he was born in the country.
“(The definition is) outdated and arguably discriminatory,” said Manotoc, who runs a top basketball management agency along with Marvin Espiritu. “It’s based on birthplace, so you can be full Filipino yet born in America and even if you moved to the Philippines when you were 2 years old, you’re still Fil-Am.”
“Then you have ‘Fil-Ams’ who have been playing in the PBA for over ten years who still count against the rule,” he added. “Does it really make you less Filipino if you weren’t born in the Philippines?”
“This needs to change,” the son of former PBA assistant commissioner and grand slam coach Tommy Manotoc continued. “It’s bad enough we don’t have a players’ union.”
Manotoc and Espiritu manage several Fil-foreign players and have a handful of incoming rookie clients who could be affected by the rule: Fil-Am Rashawn McCarthy, Joseph Eriobu, a Hong Kong-born Fil-Nigerian forward, Fil-German Arnold Van Opstal, and Fil-Am Matthew Wright.
Asked if any of them are in danger of not making their team’s roster owing to the five-player limit, Manotoc can’t give a definite answer for now, although most of them, including the Gilas cadets, are expected to sign multi-year deals.
“It’s too early to tell, but teams have already told me they haven’t drafted Fil-Ams because of the rule,” said Manotoc, who earlier said that less teams are eager to gamble on overseas-raised players nowadays.
If the league can’t change the definition, Manotoc is hoping to see the PBA at least allow one more Fil-foreign player to be added to the cap.
“At least make it six Fil-Ams per team,” Manotoc said. “Not just because it hurts the future Fil-foreigners, but because it hurts the teams and leagues by not having the best players.”
“We shouldn’t discriminate amongst ourselves,” he added. “The fans deserve better. We’re all Filipinos.”