THE University of Cebu, twice a champion of the Cesafi basketball tournament, sits at next to last with a 1-6 record, and, barring a miracle against the University of San Carlos late last night, could see its season end in the quarterfinal round.
What ails UC?
Nothing much, really, but it's what ails the college game that is hurting the school.
This year, UC went all local, shunning imports that have sprouted in the college game lately, to prove a point.
“It is always my stand that having foreign players (in the team) would mean denying our local players a chance to get scholarships. We at UC believe in our local talents and local players can be as competitive as the foreign players,” UC team manager Baldomero Estenzo told our reporter Rommel C. Manlosa, just before the season started.
And with a 1-6 record, should UC change its stance and sign up the best import available for future Cesafi campaign?
I hope not. You see, UC got it. And do you know who else got it? Chot Reyes of the Gilas Pilipinas fame.
For UC, it's all about giving the local boys a chance, not just at a basketball career, but a college degree that goes with a scholarship and with limited slots on a team, giving one or two to an import means a local player gets denied a spot.
For coach Chot, it's also about giving local boys a chance.
Right after steering Gilas Pilipinas to a second place finish in the Fiba Asia, he was asked in an interview if naturalizing players like Marcus Douthit is detrimental to Philippine basketball.
He told ABS CBN, “Naturalizing one or two (players) is not going to have a big effect on our big men. What has a bad effect on the future generation of big men is the UAAP and NCAA’s practice of allowing all these Africans. I think that should stop. All the UAAP, NCAA and college teams having one or two Africans, that’s going to hurt the local big men.”
Add a few Cesafi teams to coach Chot’s statement and you have the state of college basketball in the country.
Coach Chot said that with so many imports in the college scene, 20, or even 40 Pinoys lose their spots.
And for a school like UC to take such a stance is laudable. It says a lot about what their athletic program is all about and for UC, winning is not a priority.
So I hope UC continues to take that stance. For a basketball loving country, I doubt there is a shortage of players’ dream of playing their way to a college degree through basketball.
Will they win a Cesafi title with that attitude?
Probably not, but that’s not what is important.
And does UC’s stance make what UV and SWU doing, wrong?
Not really. The two schools are after a title, not only in Cebu but in the national scene.
And in the case of the Philippine college scene, it seems you can’t win one without an import. How it had become that way, I don’t know.
Just like the national team. We can send a collegiate team and it will still dominate Southeast Asian basketball but in the Asian level, as shown in the recent Fiba Asian championships, we need a Marcus Douthit. Everyone has gone that route and so we must.
In the college scene, they’ve gone that route, too.
And it’s great that once in a while, you meet a team like UC.