Stags coach welcomes ban on imports


    THE ban on foreign student-athletes, at least in the 96th NCAA basketball tournament, will be a big boost to the league in many aspects, according to San Sebastian College coach Egay Macaraya.

    “I guess it’s good for local big men because they will have more playing time. As for our team, then at least we won’t have to spend a lot of time in our game plan on how to stop imports in the paint,” Macaraya told Malaya-Business Insight yesterday.

    “Recruitment process will be more focused on local and other Filipino players with foreign blood who we could use directly for our national team and in cutting the budget (it will help) because we know they are a lot more expensive (allegedly foreign players’ allowances) than locals,” he added.

    The league recently stood pat on its earlier decision not to allow “imports” from playing beginning next season, deeming they “do more harm than good.”

    Macaraya, who will call shots for the Golden Stags for the fifth straight year, said the absence of foreign players, mostly big men, levels the playing field but admitted his charges have their work cut out for them.

    “At least, now we have an equal opportunity but there’s no assurance in winning games especially since I’m in the middle of starting a new team without my veterans and star players,” related Macaraya. “We will always be that relentless team that will do its very best to win games.”

    With the lingering health risks and uncertainties brought about by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s oldest collegiate league is eyeing to launch its 96th season early next year.

    Metro Manila has been placed under the less strict general community quarantine last June 1, but team sports-related activities are still a no-go.

    Macaraya is convinced the wait will be worth it.

    “Preparations-wise, we still don’t know when to start but if ever it (96th NCAA season) will happen, I will be very happy regardless of the outcome of the NCAA season,” said Macaraya. “Imagine, we could go back to playing basketball again.”

    San Sebastian wound up with an 11-7 record for fourth in the last NCAA cage wars but bowed to eventual champions Letran in their stepladder semis duel.

    The Recto-based five will no longer have prolific wingman Allyn Bulanadi, who was tabbed by Alaska in the special Gilas draft last December, and Alvin Capobres, who was selected by Magnolia in the pro league.

    High-scoring playmaker RK Ilagan and energetic big man JM Calma are expected to anchor the Stags’ bid to end a 12-year title drought or since the likes of Jimbo Aquino, Pamboy Raymundo, Ronald Pascual, and now pros Calvin Abueva and Ian Sangalang led San Sebastian to the Promised Land in 2009.