Wednesday, July 28, 2010

On the Entry of Fil-Foreign Players in Philippine Basketball

IMO, this might as well be referred to as the globalization of basketball. Similar to the tritely mentioned concept of globalization in transnational commerce and trade, the removal of restrictions and barriers of entry to foreign goods and services can only lead if not coerce the domestic market/the locals to keep-up with the level of quality brought in by other cultures, nationalities, races and backgrounds. If you fail to keep-up with the rest of the world, you drift and fade to irrelevance, rejection, and dejection. If we put this in the context of basketball talent, we (Filipinos) are perhaps ill-informed, and dare I say living an illusion, if we still think that we are a basketball superpower in the world, not to mention in our very own region, Asia. We need to keep-up with the global trend. After Croatia, Lithuania and the other basketball nations of the Soviet bloc a few decades ago, countries like Greece and Spain have shown some sparks of brilliance in pitting themselves against USA basketball. And oh, don't forget South America's Argentina. I don't even have to question if Filipinos have the passion for this sport. We obviously do. Is the drawback really perhaps genetic? Then again, we have always been a tolerant and hospitable culture and we do embrace those trickles of assimilated genes to our country's DNA pool. Aside from this of course, I think, is the mindset of the culture in breeding basketball positions. Percentage-wise, there is no arguing that we have a populace with heights comparably shorter to the average citizens of other countries (I can't really say people from the West, because China has been parading 7 footers as well). Let me cite an example, supposing we have 10 players on court (it doesn't have to be some serious hoops session, let's just talk about some everyday playground basketball), all are just in high school, 7 of these guys are standing 5'7" and below, 2 of them are around 5'10" and one is at 6'2", guess what happens? The small guys force the "bigger" guys to stop trying to dribble and handle the ball. They force the "taller" guys to familiarize themselves in the paint, even if let's say the 6'2" guy has been practicing his handles and looking ahead to becoming a guard like the guys he watches on NBA TV. That's how we end up with 6'3" to 6'6" centers. And guess what? In international hoops, 6'3" to 6'6" are 3's/small forwards. Our "bigs", who aren't really big at all in fact, are relegated to playing positions that aren't designed to stand-up against the "real bigs of the world" (I'm talking about the legit 7 footers). And how come through the years, we've seen bigs who have good handles and range; seemingly tolerated by the mentality/culture of their societies? Here are a few cases in point to mention, Dirk Nowitzi, Lamar Odom, Boris Diaw, Kevin Durant, etc. I leave these arguments for you to reflect on. Moving on to other aspects, is it perhaps the food that we eat? Rice vs burgers...hmmm...makes you think of some creative solutions indeed. Aside from food, how about flooding the market with some pituitary gland tweaking supplements? In any case, before the discussion gets weird and out of hand, local players undoubtedly have the talent as well, but the critical point in all of this is whether our local guys are prepared to stand-up to the "challenges" and level of play brought in by fil-foreign players. The local players can try protecting their "turf" all they want, but at the end of the day, you end up with mediocre competition and inadequate exposure to the challenges of the real "basketball world" (with emphasis on the word world). We can stay encapsulated and shielded from the truths about how the level of play has gone up exponentially in different regions of the globe and settle to making ourselves believe that we still parade the best Asian talents, coaching, training, conditioning, basketball philosophies, among others and find satisfaction in beating the hapless Vietnamese and Sri Lankan basketball teams (nope, I'm not hating or ridiculing them, they are still young basketball nations at this point anyway) into bloody and pulped masses of meat, which probably wouldn't last in the coming years anyway if these guys found some secret formula to winning in this sport. Just my two cents, though, peace out!

All compositions, statements and opinions of the author are copyright © Earl T. Malvar 2009-2010. All rights reserved. There is no honor, respect, admiration, intellectual and academic dignity garnered through plagiarism.

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