THERE could be no more imports in the NCAA five years from now.
That is the time frame estimated by the NCAA management committee as the country’s oldest collegiate league enters the final season where member schools will be allowed to recruit foreign players.
Last year, the NCAA policy board approved the proposal to disallow member schools from recruiting foreign players for their teams, the new rule taking effect beginning next season.
The UAAP also allows foreigners to suit up for its member teams and has yet to entertain any move to stop it.
Under the rule, foreign players must be enrolled in an NCAA school by this academic year to be eligible, with the school having the option to field its recruit after two years of residency.
“So without really looking at the details, let’s give or take five years,” Jose Rizal University mancom representative and athletic director Paul Supan said.
San Beda started the recruitment trend in 2006 when the Mendiola-based school tapped Nigerian slotman Sam Ekwe, who helped the Lions bag three straight men’s basketball titles from 2006. Numerous imports have come and gone since then.
The arrival of foreign players, mostly from Africa, has drawn mixed opinions — some see the benefits in the improved level of competition, but others consider it a threat to local athletes.
“I think one of the advantages of having foreign players is the level of competition tumaas kasi Filipino players will be pushed,” mancom chair Dax Castellano of College of St. Benilde said.
“When Ekwe came in, parang lahat ng players pag si Ekwe nakakaharap, parang in awe, may intimidating factor kaagad eh. However, now, kung kailan dumami ang imports, parang ordinaryo na lang. Nawala na yung awe na feeling,” Supan said.
There are six foreign players in the league roster this season: Ola Adeogun of San Beda, Aziz Mbomiko of Lyceum, Cedric Happi Noube and Jean Jacques Hiole Manga of Emilio Aguinaldo College, and Femi Babayemi and Nosa Omorogbe of University of Perpetual Help.