PBA to feature Asian imports for Governors' Cup conference
SEOUL, Korea – Basketball stars from around Asia like Nikkhah Bahrami, Fadi El-Khatib, Sam Daghles, Anton Ponomarev, Kim Mingoo and Lin Chi-chieh may soon find themselves in the Philippine Basketball Association.
In a move aimed at attracting fans and advertisers from around Asia, the PBA has agreed to open its doors to players from surrounding countries for its milestone 40th season.
“The board agreed to try it for one conference specifically and exclusively for marketing outside the country and within the Asian region,” said PBA board chairman Patrick Gregorio.
“It’s another way of looking at the PBA as the no. 1 professional league in Asia,” added Gregorio, who originally pitched the idea.
The PBA introduces the “Asian integration” in the season-ending Governors Cup with the PBA teams allowed one player each with a height ceiling of 6-foot-4.
Asian recruits will be on top of the regular imports playing in the season-ending Governors Cup. Naturalized Asian players, like Chinese Taipei’s Quincy Davis, will be ineligible however.
“It’s optional. And why 6-4? It’s the average height of Filipino players,” said PBA commissioner Chito Salud.
“But it’s still tentative. Everything will be finalized as the governors cleared things with their principals (team owners),” Salud added.
The board chairman, however, is convinced his proposal would help the league increase its fan base and firm up its stature as the no. 1 pro league in Asia.
“Imagine if you recruit Korean players. I heard Korean population in the Philippines has hit a million,” Gregorio said.
“We want to showcase the league in the region. We’re reaching out as we target big sponsors in the region like Samsung and LG,” Gregorio also said.
Blackwater team owner Dioceldo Sy and Ginebra board representative Alfrancis Chua – a multi-titled coach in the defunct PBL – remembered the mania brought by the participation of former Chinese star Ma Jian in the PBL in the 90s. - Rappler.com
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