The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is counting on national team standouts Thirdy Ravena, Jack Animam and Kai Sotto in flying the flag higher on top of their expected individual growth as imports overseas.
At the end of the day, the local basketball governing body believes that these Nationals representing the country abroad would not only benefit their personal dreams and careers but also the Philippine basketball as a whole.
“It’s an honor. We should be honored and flattered that our players are being considered as imports now in our region,” said SBP director of operations Butch Antonio during Tuesday’s PSA Forum.
“Ang respeto sa atin ng ating mga neighbors in other countries, nakikita nila na pwedeng lumahok ang ating mga players in their respective leagues.”
Amid the pandemic and the indefinite hiatus of the sports industry, Filipino talents from across all levels were not stopped from carving their marks led by 18-year-old Sotto, who became the first-ever international signee of the prestigious NBA G League this summer.
Collegiate stars Ravena (San-En Neo Phoenix) and Animam (Shih Hsin University) then followed suit, committing to play as imports in Japanese B. League and Taiwan’s University Basketball Association, respectively.
FEU’s Ken Tuffin has also been representing the country as part of the Taranaki Mountainairs in the New Zealand — NBL.
These overseas acts, according to SBP executive director Sonny Barrios, is a great opportunity the players could utilize in growing their skills by leaps and bounds.
And in return, it would also help boost the Philippine national team program especially with their commitments with Gilas in many international tournaments to come.
“If you want to improve in sports, you play against those better than you. Kaya nga ‘yang mga nabibigyan ng mga oportunidad na makalaro abroad where they can learn to develop their skills and talent at a different level, maganda ‘yang opportunity,” he said. (J.B. Ulanday, PS)