PBA | Go for two conferences... and a lot of pocket tournaments!

There is an alleged move to shorten PBA activities to two conferences. For a while, it made no sense, especially with how the Philippine Cup and the Fiesta Conference looked. The Fiesta Conference paraded imports of unlimited height and of course, their entries disrupted how basketball worked in the land.

The worst problem to happen in this scenario is how the centers were developed. Doug Kramer once spoke about this and I guess Jojo Lastimosa saw this coming during the Fil-Am invasion of the late 90s and the early 2000s as part of the PBA Players Union. Famed power forwards like Alvin Patrimonio, Nelson Asaytono and Noli Locsin had to develop their outside shooting with the entries of Eric Menk, Asi Taulava and Davonn Harp. Back in the collegiate leagues and in the PBL, teams had to contend with the likes of Sam Ekwe, Sudan Daniel, Ola Adeogun, Karim Abdul, Emmanuel Mbe and Ben Mbala. Big men that were once focal points during their high school careers were forced to become defensive stoppers with an undercooked offensive game.

But now, Philippine basketball needs to have time for preparation. Also, our local players can compete with the Fil-Ams as well as the big imports. Even if Justin Brownlee is an awesome force and there is still time for June Mar Fajardo as well as Kai Sotto to develop, our naturalized player needs to dominate in the paint.

So yeah, the two-conference setup with the second being a conference of imports with unlimited height is a good move for the league.

But then… now what?

From this point until the 2023 FIBA World Cup qualifiers, SBP needs to align with the other Asian countries to create something awesome. I think a decade and a half ago, there was this thing that was called the Philippine Collegiate Champions League. It was initially made up of the best college teams from the different collegiate meets in the Philippines. This is where we caught a glimpse of discoveries like UV’s Greg Slaughter and JR Quinahan, UC’s June Mar Fajardo and UM’s Samigue Eman. Non-UAAP and non-NCAA players like the De Ocampo brothers were also highlighted.

Basically, while the ASEAN Basketball League is serving its purpose, we need to create pocket tournaments for our squads.

For example, after the second conference, let’s have the teams play pocket tournaments either here or abroad. For example, let’s have three PBA teams play in an extended version of the Jones Cup, then have three PBA teams play in the Terrific 12, the FIBA Champions Cup and heck, let’s just arrange our schedule to fit the ABL season. I think it’s also going to be a good thing for the league to have pocket tourneys with either the under-23 players or their main roster.

We can even have a mini-joust against the top MPBL teams and even the top college squads to see once and for all, if the trolls would still think that we're better off represented by the Maharlika boys than the PBA stars.  

I guess the major point here is exposure. If we can’t have the best teams play in our land, then we need to go to theirs instead. The European teams are successful because the teams are co-dependent with each other. We play the Asian leaders with little to no rehearsals – and this is why we still can’t figure out how some of their teams work. This must not be the case.

And it’s not just for our sake – as we need to make the Iranians, Chinese, Japanese, Jordanians, Lebanese, Koreans, and others realize that they need us also. Asia, since the current incarnation of the FIBA World Cup, struggle in the major meets.

Just take DOTA 2 as a comparison. I know there is a whole lot of difference with regards to these two sports but ever since they introduced The Majors as well as The International, they have since enjoyed a high level of competition. I believe the right mix of local and international competition should make Philippine basketball awesome.

But then here’s the bad part of this dream scenario.


I think it’s time for the PBA to have multiple owners for single franchises. In how I perceive this vision, I am not talking about pocket tourneys for Gilas Pilipinas players as well as the champion teams. The proper way to globalize the PBA is by exposing everyone to the style of a lot of squads. We have a lot of players that are good at international tourneys but are lost in the PBA shuffle. First up, let’s have some of the former Gilas Pilipinas players like Jason Ballesteros, Raymar Jose, Garvo Lanete, Von Pessumal, and Carl Bryan Cruz. At one point in their careers, they did well in international outings.

The thought of finding a diamond in the rough in these pocket tourneys could also be a good thing for Philippine basketball. What if Jeron Teng becomes a revelation in one pocket tourney or we discover that for some reason, defensive ace Ping Exciminiano is a good pawn to unleash against the continent’s perimeter guys?

Contrary to a lot of trolls, weak-minded critics (those who only complain without a semblance of a noteworthy solution) and pessimists, I still believe our best sport is basketball. We will never have a World Cup in football, volleyball and even baseball in the coming decade but we have the resources as well as (believe it or not, trolls) the talent. People forget that the current basketball program is just ten years old. Before Iran started their ascent as Asia’s top dogs, they also had trouble with their lineup. Sure, these past few years have been trying but it’s not that dire.



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