The threat is real. In fact, it’s already here. Japan is back on our shores but not as the cruel conqueror of nearly eight decades ago, but as a sleek recruiter this time.
First to be baited was Thirdy Ravena, the power driving Eagle who became the Most Valuable Player in UAAP basketball only a while back.
Before that, Thirdy, after completing his studies at Ateneo, was ballyhooed as the No. 1 Draft pick in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). But then it happened: He dodged the Draft in a head-scratching move that baffled even the experts. Turns out he had signed up to play in Japan’s B. League tournament as a Filipino import.
Never mind that Thirdy brushed aside a PBA law sanctioning a possible draftee who consumes a two-year hiatus as an unsigned PBA player.
Soon, more questions on his move stormed the rumor mill. Why? Why? Why?
Was Thirdy avoiding a sibling rivalry since Kiefer, his elder brother, is fast establishing himself as a PBA star while essaying a major role at NLEX?
Or Thirdy found the PBA a bore and needed to spread his wings through the lure of an overseas stint?
Then came the news that Ray Ray Parks, the son of Bobby Parks—the late, lamented seven-time Most Valuable Import in the PBA—is joining Thirdy in Japan despite having already gotten a lucrative offer to be a Tropang Giga mainstay.
While speculations continued renting the air, Kiefer provided another shocker by also announcing he was joining his brother Thirdy in Japan. Although he was blocked at first due to his live NLEX contract, Kiefer would soon squeeze himself out of the jam and he is now almost ready to take the big Japan plunge himself.
You think you’ve seen enough?
Gilas Pilipinas stars like the De Liano brothers Javi and Juan, together with Andre Paras, Dwight Ramos and even my own town mate, the 6-foot-10 Kemark Carino (he was under the family’s care during his high school days, ahem!), are also set to leave for Japan.
But what’s really triggering this frenzied exodus?
Money, what else?
Reports have it that a Pinoy player can get as much as US$25,000 a month (roughly P1.2 million) from any of Japan’s 20 Division 1 teams.
Suddenly, the estimated maximum P450,000 per month a star player gets at the PBA has become peanuts.
And so Japan, here we come. Banzai!