Photo by Josh Albelda
MANILA, Philippines – A few days ago, the NCAA released the rosters of the teams participating in the league’s All-Star Game, which is set to take place on Saturday, August 16, at the San Juan Arena.
Upon the release of the Eastern and Western All-Star rosters, one key aspect many were quick to notice was that no foreign players were included in either of the two lineups.
This quickly drew ire from many critics, including a tweet from one of the collegiate basketball league’s best foreign big men, Ola Adeogun, who turned to social media to make a statement on the issue on Saturday, August 9:
“Incase you wondering why there are no foreign players in the NCAA all-star game. We will be having our own game in Manila zoo, stay tuned,” he said.
The tweet was deleted the following day, Sunday, August 10.
In an exclusive interview with Rappler on Monday afternoon, August 11, NCAA Management Committee Chairman Paul Supan explained that the exclusion of foreigners in the All-Star game had nothing to do with bias against the said players, but rather to ensure a balanced and more competitive matchup on Saturday afternoon.
Supan also confirmed that the division of East and West all-star teams were based on the “geographical locations of the schools,” which played a major part in the eventual omission of Adeogun and company from the game.
“We tried to make the teams as balanced as possible, because it’s for the fans. At first, we tried to have it (division of All-Star teams) based on the rankings last year (league standings). But then again, we found it hard. So geographical nalang (instead).”
“Kahit geographical, hindi parin siya balanced,” (it still wasn’t balanced.) Supan continued. “Some teams, they don’t have foreign players. So, to balance the lineups, we decided not to use them.”
Peter Cayco, also a member of the NCAA Management Committee, further clarified the matter during the interview:
“We really wanted them (foreigners) to play. But, just imagine, with the East having teams like San Sebastian, San Beda, Arellano, JRU, and Perpetual – you have the top four of the 10 teams in the NCAA right there. If you match, man for man, the foreign players of these teams, you have Ola (Adeogun), you have (Dioncee) Holts, and you have (Abdul Razak), Abdul Wahab [in the East, had they been included].
“You’ll have a lopsided game, maybe one team winning by 50 or more.
“We have to choose which would be better for the league, the beneficiaries, and especially the fans. And we decided it’s better for us to balance the teams, to assure a good game, a very competitive game,” Cayco added.
However, even if the foreigners of the league won’t be participating in the game itself, that doesn’t mean they won’t be allowed to take part in the other festivities on All-Star Game day.
“It will start as early as 10:30 in the morning,” the chairman said about the list of events taking place at the San Juan Arena on Saturday. “We will be holding our annual search for Ms. NCAA. Then we’ll have the side events – three-point shootout and slam dunk contest – and the game.”
“They’re (foreigners) not excluded. They’re part of the slam dunk contest and three-point shootout,” added Supan, who mentioned that the list of participants for both events are still being finalized, but should be released soon.
“Giving back to society”
While the NCAA hopes to put on a show to remember for their loyal fans and those who will be present to witness All-Star Game day, the league is also hoping to raise funds to help the less fortunate and some of their hard-working employees.
“It’s our way of giving back to the society,” Supan said about Saturday’s events. “And this is a charity event… whatever proceeds will be used to fund the projects of the NCAA such as our annual charity event. In fact, we have invited our beneficiaries. They’re the children from Hospicio de San Jose.”
He continued: “The NCAA is the training ground for the national athletes so we’re also supporting them. And through this project, maybe we can generate funds. And also for the welfare for the people working for the NCAA.”
“We expect everyone to have fun, be entertained, and to enjoy the game of basketball while helping the children of Hospicio, our NCAA athletes in the national team, as well as all other people working in the NCAA,” Supan noted.
“For us, this is a charity event. This is a fun event. And we did not leave out anybody,” he clarified once again.
After all, according to the chairman, the objective is “to give back to society.”