Is it me or is the San Miguel Corporation using their ABL team as a D-League affiliate?
I know. I KNOW the ABL is a different entity and I am mistaking their action to the original objective of the PBA D-League but what can I do? There are some laws of the D-League that the San Miguel Beermen can provide.
The developmental league of the Philippine Basketball Association is a good way to help the amateur players get their bearing. They kick start what the PBL left off. Teams can use their D-League experience to prepare for the college wars. As of this moment top players like Calvin Abueva, Chris Camus, Clifford Hodge, Chris Ellis, Jeric Fortuna, Vic Manuel, Garvo Lanete, Dave Marcelo, and Ian Sangalang among others are playing in the league. PBA teams can also use their affiliate squad to check out the young players in the league’s free agency as well as the other amateur stars from all parts of the Philippines who need the D-League exposure to make their selves relevant.
However just like in the PBL (until they changed their amendment to suit up the former MBA players when that league ended), players only have until their 27th birthday to play for the league.
In my opinion, the D-League gets a kick on a lot of things but the duty of the affiliates and the development of their other players are virtually useless.
Who are their affiliates anyway?
I know the NLEX Road Warriors is the affiliate of the MVP squads and of course, the Junior Powerade Tigers is the affiliate team of the Powerade Tigers but what about the rest? In the first season of the D-League, Café France (Rain or Shine), Freego Jeans (Air21), Junior Powerade (Powerade), Maynilad (Talk N Text), and NLEX (Meralco) were the only teams in the 13-team field to have affiliates. Two scenarios unfolded in this event: Ogie Menor was demoted from Meralco to NLEX and Borgie Hermida was sent to Maynilad from Talk N Text via Smart-Gilas (Hermida was sent to Smart-Gilas after acquiring his rights from the defunct Barako Bull squad but was not used by Rajko Toroman). While Powerade had then-undrafted talent John Smith, Maynilad had Hermida, and NLEX had Menor and Claiford Arao, Freego and Café France were composed of Adamson and Centro Escolar players who are preparing for their upcoming college tourneys so they were useless as affiliates.
The only good thing about this season was Menor getting the nod to return to Meralco.
In the next D-League tourney, Café France still had the core of the CEU Scorpions, Freego still had the Adamson guys, and NLEX still had Arao but this time, there were no successful transactions.
In the current D-League season, Café France still has a core of amateurs led by the nucleus of the Scorpions and NLEX have in their roster the returning Hermida (who was cut by Shopinas now known as Air21). Junior Powerade returned but they consist mostly of the UP Fighting Maroons.
So what the hell?!?
In Meralco, they have Gilbert Bulawan, Jason Ballesteros, Yousif Aljamal, Mark Canlas, Dennis Daa, and even Chris Timberlake to send to the D-League so that they can excel more and not limit their exposure to practices. Alaska could use the D-League to improve the skills of Julius Pasculado and Ariel Mepana. Had they had an affiliate, maybe they can improve Mike Burtscher (now with B-Meg) and Kelvin Dela Pena (now with San Miguel). And Barako Bull could have used this league to give Reil Cervantes and Paul Sorongan playing time.
Instead, we are seeing these talents rot in the PBA benches.
This leads me to the ABL. The ABL is a flourishing Southeast Asian league where the best of the region play. To make the league challenging for all, each team can select two imports outside Southeast Asia and three imports born and raised in the region. And since the best basketball-playing country in SE Asia is the Philippines, most of the regional imports they have compose of Pinoy players. To spice things up, there is no age limit for the Filipinos. That is why Junmar Fajardo – the projected top pick in the 2012 PBA Draft – is currently mastering his import-defending skills with the San Miguel Beermen. In counting there are 41 players that have suited up for their respective teams in the ABL. This stat almost doubled this season because there are now two Pinoy teams in the ABL.
I could zero in on the Air Asia-Philippine Patriots… but they are not the issue right now.
A few weeks ago, Roger Yap publicly asked for his release, citing that ever since Tim Cone came to the B-Meg Llamados, his minutes have become limited. San Miguel Corporation – not willing to give up their ace playmaker – “released” the star to the Beermen. The Beermen already have recently released B-Meg player John Ferriols and recently released Barako Bull player Leo Avenido. And then, in lieu of Chris Lutz’ injury, the Petron Blaze Boosters traded Marc Agustin for Chico Lanete and they “acquired” former Powerade player RJ Rizada from the San Miguel Beermen.
Even if the SMC doesn’t have a D-League, they have an affiliate squad.
So what gives?
I don’t think you can blame the San Miguel Corporation for Ron Jacobs-ing the rules. The D-League is missing out on developing the benchwarmers of the PBA. The D-League should also be used by teams to hone their reserves just like how the NBA is utilizing their developmental league. The NBA D-League is instrumental for honing a lot of players, most notable of which is Jeremy Lin. Recently the Dallas Mavericks used the D-League to re-tune Lamar Odom.
I bet Petron could use the D-League to re-tune Rabeh Al-Hussaini.
Or their ABL squad.
Here’s what the PBA office should do. I said should… because who am I to tell them things anyway.
Force PBA teams to have affiliates: The problem with these teams is that they need to make things compulsory in order for these rules to take place. As long as people get paid right, I think both parties will like their hopefully temporary specs.
Drop the age limit: This is at least for those with live contracts with their mother PBA squads. Inasmuch as we love the youth, ever thought what would happen if most of the top collegiate talent didn’t benchwarm? Owners will check their development in the D-League and if they can’t do well, then there’s no regrets to send them off elsewhere.
Double duty: I think this is the best way to use the wasted talent. The sixth to eleventh guy in the rotation could do well staying put with one squad but the twelfth to fifteenth guy in the roster needs this the most. Maybe until management says so (until he gets used frequently in the rotation) maybe they can play for both squads. Petron's Nonoy Baclao or
In case your mind would linger on it, I am NOT a SMC hater. There is a reason players get undrafted and are forced to play outside the PBA. I just think that the PBA D-League has flaws and they need to change it. The PBL slowly went bankrupt when they can’t get broadcast partners the way the UAAP has with Studio 23. The D-League looks like a viable option that as long as there is support, the league will thrive.
I think a good module for the D-League is the Shakey’s V-League. Participating college teams (before they allowed corporate squads) had imports (local or foreign) to make their team fiercer. For example, UST had the core of their squad but they also had Mary Jean Balse who despite being a UST vet, had already graduated from the school.
The D-League has youth but the ABL has experience. Some of the players in the ABL like Boyet Bautista could have used the D-League so that they wouldn’t drift from league to league. Did anyone of you saw the part of Captain Tsubasa when he was playing for his Spanish team's Team B and had to excel in all accounts before moving to the main squad? I think teams can have that opportunity with the player/s they will be getting.
Maybe Chito Salud and the rest of the PBA board could review the bylaws of the D-League so that they can successfully admonish all the league’s said objectives.