Philippine basketball

PBA chairman sounds off on player poaching

Delfin Dioquino
PBA chairman sounds off on player poaching
'What is difficult is agents who do not understand the PBA are just there to make their own money and make off our star players,' says league chairman Ricky Vargas

MANILA, Philippines – PBA chairman Ricky Vargas blasted agents who poach players as Filipino talents continue to pursue careers in overseas leagues.

The PBA is no longer the only route for top Filipino players after neighboring countries Japan, Taiwan, and Korea opened their doors to career opportunities with more lucrative pay.

“Poaching has been very serious,” said Vargas during the pre-season press conference on Monday, May 30. “We have lost some very good players who did not join the draft or who has been in the draft and left the PBA.”

“I guess it takes a lot from the players to be professional about it, from those poaching them to be professional about it, and from the agents that poached them to be very professional about it.”

Some of the notable players who left the PBA include Kiefer Ravena and Ray Parks, who both made the jump to the Japan B. League.

Ravena joined the Shiga Lakestars despite having a live contract with NLEX, while Parks signed with the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins after his contract with TNT expired.

Drafted by Terrafirma and loaned to Gilas Pilipinas, Jordan Heading went elsewhere by inking a deal with the Taichung Suns of the T1 League in Taiwan.

Potential first-round pick Justine Baltazar is the latest to trek the B. League path as he signed with the Hiroshima Fireflies after pulling out from the PBA Draft.

“We’re learning a lot from the past two years when we lost some of our key players, we’ve learned from that experience, and surprisingly, the PBA stood its ground and the PBA is as successful as it is even without the players that we’ve lost,” Vargas said.

Vargas said the PBA will only work with accredited agents to crack down on player poaching.

“There are agents that go directly to the players who are not even registered agents. Normally a registered agent of the PBA would be more circumspect in the way they manage getting players,” Vargas said.

“What is difficult is agents who do not understand the PBA are just there to make their own money and make off our star players. We’re trying to protect our players from that as well.”

“It is good if these agents that poach and go directly to our players, register themselves with the PBA. This is also for the protection of our players.” –

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.