KUALA LUMPUR – Coach Jong Uichico believes the practice of recruiting big African players in collegiate leagues back home is hurting Philippine basketball and calls for a complete ban.
The issue cropped up after acknowledging the big contribution of Fil-German Christian Standhardinger in the Philippines’ title sweep in the 29th Southeast Asian Games.
“I have been vocal against this because it denies spots for local big men,” said Uichico, the day after their 94-55 demolition of Indonesia in the final.
Uichico said there’s a shortage of good, big men because their spots have been taken by the Africans.
“Kung may malaki kang African, bakit ka pa kukuha ng mga 6-5 or 6-6 na Pinoy?” Uichico asked.
Standhardinger, a six-foot-nine center, flew from Lebanon a day before the start of the competition to provide size to the hastily-formed selection.
“Without Christian, things would have been more difficult,” said Uichico.
Standhardinger averaged in double digits in scoring and provided the inside presence and athleticism the team needs to stay ahead of the competition.
Uichico said the team competed against professional players toughened by their stints in their own leagues and the Asean Basketball League (ABL).
“Iba na ang mga kalaban ngayon. Hindi na puwede biruin,” he said.
Uichico said returning to the old practice of sending top collegiate players to play in the Games can still be done, but won’t guarantee success.
“Sige, try natin padala mga collegiate players na nag train for one week. I’m not saying they would lose, but let’s see,” he said.
The Gilas Cadet team trained for nine days and scrimmaged with four collegiate squads in the runup to the Games.
Upon their return on Monday, the squad is deemed disbanded, according to Uichico.
“The players have their own plans. Some will join the PBA draft,” he said. (Rey Bancod)