CEBU CITY - Though the details have yet to be hammered out, Cebu’s close-knit basketball community and even basketball patrons outside of it are buzzing with excitement with the approval of the creation of the PBA Visayas-Mindanao D-League.
With the PBA board of directors and league commissioner Chito Narvasa giving the Visayas-Mindanao league the go-signal, plans are underway to launch the tournament’s maiden season during the first quarter of next year.
However, it remains to be seen if Cebu’s collegiate players will get to suit up in this tournament.
Unlike the UAAP or the NCAA where players are allowed to play in various commercial leagues, Cesafi rules prohibit active players from suiting up in the D-League.
Back in 2012, Southwestern University-Phinma recruit Criz Dumapig was barred from playing in the Cesafi after it was found out that he suited up for the Café France Bakers during the D-League Aspirants’ Cup of that same year.
SPIN.ph asked several Cesafi coaches and even some highly-regarded basketball personalities regarding their thoughts on the matter.
“I think the players should be allowed to play. Why? Because at the end of the day, it’s the Cesafi that stands to benefit most from this. The players get more experience and become better and when they return to play in the Cesafi, a lot more fans will come to watch since the level of play is better,” said University of San Carlos head coach Rommel Rasmo.
UV’s braintrust of head coach Gary Cortes and lead assistant Van Halen Parmis also agreed that the arrival of the D-League down south would open up massive opportunities for those aspiring to make it to the pro level.
“Maybe we could let senior players play already. Also, it will give chances to those players who just graduated or don’t have any more playing years left. It will give hope to those who haven’t given up on their basketball dreams,” shared Cortes.
“This is good not just for Cebu-based players but also those from Mindanao. The more leagues we have, the better especially for those in the Cesafi. But first, we really have to do something to change that ruling that prohibits Cesafi players from playing in commercial leagues,” Parmis added.
The head coaches of the University of Southern Philippines Foundation and the Cebu Institute of Technology-University are also supporting the move to allow their players to suit up in the upcoming league.
“Yes. I believe that they should since this is a fresh and aggressive league and it would also help the players become more conditioned in time for the Cesafi,” said USPF head coach Albert Alocillo.
“In my opinion, if it’s during the offseason, then it’s a good venue for players to showcase their talent. In the end, it’s the goal of every basketball player to make it to the PBA or even the D-League,” added CIT-U’s mentor Bembem Alcaraz.
While Southwestern University-Phinma athletic director Mike Reyes expressed support for players to play in the D-League, he proposed a caveat.
“A Cesafi player has to play in Cesafi for two years to be eligible for Vis-Min D League,” said Reyes.
Meanwhile, Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu’s athletic director Rico Navarro is hopeful that the D-League will finally push through following a failed attempt of a southern revival by the Countrywide Basketball League earlier this year.
“I hope it finally gets going. It will be a big boost to Cebu basketball. We haven't had a real commercial league since the Cebu Basketball Federation back in 2005 or 2006,” the astute sportsman and broadcaster said.
The development was not lost on recently named Talk N Text head coach, Nash Racela. The current head coach of the reigning UAAP champions Far Eastern University Tamaraws has taken to recruiting players from Cebu, notably TnT draft pick Roger Pogoy and current Tams Jasper Parker, Ron Dennison, Monbert Arong, Kevin Ebona and Raymar Jose.
“I think the benefit is that players will become eligible for the PBA Draft without having to go to Manila, assuming they played two conferences in D-League Cebu. Other than that, it depends really on the kind of setup they will have,” Racela shared.