When Jared Bahay made that early commitment to the University of the Philippines (UP) last year, becoming, as far as I know, the only highly sought high school player to make such an announcement, I thought that the announcement would only serve one thing.
Instead of the rich UAAP schools ending their attempts to get him, I thought his announcement merely set the benchmark and led the schools to ask, “What is UP giving him and how can we top that?”
And when UP announced that Bahay had de-committed to the school, everyone knew what that meant; someone had topped the UP offer.
Basketball insider Snow Badua, in a social media post that barely disguised that it was about Bahay, said the offer was P8 million on top of other perks.
I find the figure to be believable, considering almost a decade ago, another marque Cebu recruit was snagged for P15 million.
Can you blame Bahay for turning his back on UP for reportedly P8 million?
The Manila college basketball scene is the Wild, Wild West, any player lucky enough to be at their target, to be at the center of a recruitment war, should fully take advantage of it.
Marquee recruits like Jared Bahay aren’t guaranteed a fruitful pro career. If they can get millions as college players, so be it.
Besides, it’s not as if that those churning out the millions are suffering or making sacrifices. The schools earn off players like Bahay and the alumni who shelled out part of the millions? They probably had it as a tax write-off.
While basketball fans are quick to condemn players like Bahay, they forget to acknowledge the fact that players like him are getting P8 million because UAAP basketball, while touting to be an amateur league, is a de facto professional league.
You don’t get to recruit basketball players in the league if you don’t offer them a monthly salary, essentially turning these supposedly amateur players into pros.
It’s a broken system, one that allows those with deeper pockets to play around it.
And Jared Bahay’s de-commitment from UP is but the latest proof. I say latest because there will be future Jared Bahays, Manila schools will be offering the moon and the stars for marque Cebu players.
They can whine all they want, but they’ve created their own monster.
And unless changes are made, this won’t be the last one.