It's the human and fun side of our sports heroes

Imports dim La Salle, Beda title glory

202

A UAAP/NCAA title run is less gratifying and satisfying with imports around as far as veteran sports editor Ding Marcelo is concerned.

Marcelo, in his column in the Manila Bulletin, threw a major shade on import-laced championship teams of La Salle and San Beda by calling their title runs hollow.

Marcelo blamed San Beda for starting such import tradition when they acquired the six-foot-nine Sam Ekwe in 2006.

Back then, the Mendiola-based ballers have not won the NCAA title for 28 years. Since Ekwe suited up, the Red Lions dominated the NCAA, winning four of the five titles from 2006 to 2010.

After Ekwe exhausted his playing years, San Beda tapped another African reinforcement in Ola Adeogun. The Adeogun era resulted in five straight championships for the Red Lions.

“Blame San Beda for unleashing this monster, starting with the “hiring” of Sam Ekwe in 2006. San Beda had been without an NCAA title for 28 years until some of the school’s officials had this bright idea of bringing in an “import”. What a sad turnaround for the school that produced who arguably was the country’s best basketball player ever, Caloy Loyzaga,” Marcelo wrote.

The practice continued with other NCAA teams and later on with UAAP squads.

This UAAP season, UE was the lone team which did not have an import.

“Philippine college basketball has become so highly commercialized, so deeply committed to winning at all cost that schools have thrown away any semblance of decency and sportsmanship to win championships. Yes, hail to Mbala. But are the Archers and their fans really happy winning the UAAP basketball championship with the help of an “import” so dominant he won the league MVP in his rookie year?” Marcelo added, referring to Ben Mbala.

Last but not the least, Marcelo lamented the lost opportunities for Filipino big men to excel in the collegiate ranks.

“In the meantime, Filipino basketball players, especially those who play center, the so-called bigs, continue to lose the opportunity to hone their talents as their positions usually are reserved or commandeered by the imports.”

Marcelo then sarcastically suggested that the UAAP and NCAA should hold a separate conference wherein each team will have a foreign reinforcement, similar to the pro ranks.

“If the UAAP and the NCAA want to have its cake and eat it, too, it should try the PBA way. Have two tournaments: One with imports, the other All-Filipino. That way, everybody is happy.” (Alex Cerado)