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Kiefer Ravena’s removal from his NLEX contract in the PBA is also having serious effects on Gilas Pilipinas, who has called on the former Ateneo star several times in the past. —SHERWIN VARDELEON

The apparent exodus of Gilas Pilipinas caliber players to Japan and elsewhere is alarming to say the least, with the national team’s schedule taking a huge hit when it comes to its preparations for the International Basketball Federation World Cup. ball (Fiba) 2023, that the co-host country, is concerned.

Dwight Ramos, the super efficient and hardworking goalkeeper who has played for the Filipinos in recent Fiba tournaments, was the latest to leap into the more lucrative Japan B. League, and there is no reason to believe that no one else will follow. with the Korean league is also preparing to open its doors to Asian imports.

This is why the leaders of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) will meet on Monday at the special meeting of the professional league board called by President Ricky Vargas, as they try to remedy the situation while “strengthening collaboration.” of the PBA and SBP for the national team. “

Offers are hard to pass up, at least for players drawn to Japan, as Division I teams offer prospects monthly salaries of up to $ 25,000 (roughly 1.2 million pesos) that doesn’t include not bonuses and related revenues from merchandise sales like that of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

There are 20 teams in Division I alone, and if League B decides to invade the Philippines more, that could really throw a wrench in the Gilas program.

A stint in Japan is so lucrative that even Kiefer Ravena, who has a contract with NLEX in the PBA, has chosen not to play in the land of the rising sun.

The Philippines will be one of the hosts in 2023 and hope to build the best team possible to at least make it through the group stages.

Tab Baldwin, the Mercurial trainer in charge of the Gilas program, has said in several reports that he is concerned about what is going on and will even now turn to college and high school stars to form the core of the team. National team.

Although Baldwin has shown that having an all-amateur squad could be an effective program given how Gilas has played out recent Fiba events, he might be forced to include PBA stars in the fold if the trend continues.

“We will discuss and find out how we can improve our collaboration for the national team,” Vargas told the Inquirer on Tuesday. “Yes, it is (the exodus) a concern and we all think it needs to be addressed.

“The board is unanimous on this one (exploring options with the SBP), and I am grateful to them.”

There will be eight Filipinos in action in Japan, including Kiefer and his younger brother Thirdy and Ray Parks. Kai Sotto will start playing for Adelaide in Australia while LeBron Lopez will play in the United States.

Baldwin wants his teams to be together as long as possible to make his system work. It was never a secret and he showed it worked as the Philippines took victories over bitter Asian rival South Korea with amateurs and collegiate players they had under their wing for months. .

Ramos signed a contract that would free him from his commitments with Japan for two weeks before joining the national team, and Baldwin has said so many times in the past that it won’t be enough.

Vargas just hopes the PBA and SBP can nip this thing in the bud. INQ

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