THE PBA 46th season draft last Sunday saw a lot of Fil-foreigners get tabbed, raising the eyebrows of armchair observers.
But that’s just fine, according to Basketball Coaches Association of the Philippines president and Jose Rizal University coach Louie Gonzalez.
“Okay naman tayo, mostly naman talaga sa citizenship lang ang issue pero Pinoy naman both parents,” Gonzalez told Malaya-Business Insight yesterday.
“Iyong iba naman kasi sa abroad lang lumaki pero Filipino pa din by blood,” he added.
Fil-Ams Joshua Munzon and Jamie Malonzo led the Fil-foreign draftees after they were chosen No. 1 and No. 2 overall by Terrafirma and NorthPort, respectively.
A total of 19 Fil-foreigners were selected in the proceedings held virtually due to the restrictions brought about by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic at the TV5 studio in Mandaluyong.
Aside from Munzon and Malonzo, Fil-foreigners Mikey Williams (TNT), James Laput (Dyip), Jerrick Ahanmisi (Magnolia), Troy Rike (NorthPort), and Ken Holmqvist (Ginebra) were picked in the first round.
Terrafirma also drafted Fil-Am guard Jordan Heading, NorthPort went with Fil-Greek forward William Navarro, NLEX got center Tzaddy Rangel and the Tropang Giga chose guard Jaydee Tungcab in the special Gilas Pilipinas draft.
The four players cannot suit up for their respective teams until they are released by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.
Gonzalez, who coached the likes of pure-blooded Filipino players who were also drafted such as Leonard Santillan, Aljun Melecio, and Andrei Caracut in his coaching stint with La Salle in the UAAP in 2018, rallied coaches to make their players better so they could compete with the Fil-foreigners.
“Hindi lang naman sa atin. Nangyayari rin naman sa NBA and Euro leagues at sa iba pang leagues. Nagkataon lang din dahil na-relax iyong draft eligibility due to the current situation,” Gonzalez said.
“I see this as a great reminder for the coaches that is our responsibility to make sure our athletes excel in both their dual careers, professional as an individual and professional as an athlete, iyong pagkakataon naman to study for free due to athletic scholarships, hindi namam nababawasan, bonus na lang once get drafted and make it to the pro-league.”