Mendoza: Player piracy as old as time

Mendoza.File photo

Player piracy in Metro Manila’s college basketball is in the news again.

First was Jared Bahay, who reportedly left the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons to join the Ateneo Blue Eagles in the UAAP (University Athletic Association of the Philippines) Men’s basketball competition.

Then came reports that Jacob Cortez was transferring to De La Salle from San Beda, a move that will absolutely hurt the Red Lions’ title-retention bid in the next season of the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Men’s basketball tournament.

Bahay’s transfer has remained unconfirmed but not Cortez’s.

What’s almost certain is that wealthy alumni and corporate giants have banded together to snatch Bahay out of UP. This is not really new, surprising, since this practice has been going on for the longest time.

School-switching is not illegal as there’s no league rule against it. The only condition for it to be allowed is for the transferring player to sit out his first year with the new team.

Ambitious, title-driven schools consider one year as too short a wait and it’d be worth the sacrifice especially since the player being snared is a potential title-stealer.

Did money change hands in the highly-perceived explosive deals involving Bahay and Cortez?

For Cortez alone, Marites tells me the kid got a P1,000,000 signing bonus and a P100,000 monthly salary.

If true, that’s a lot of money. A blessing this early for someone who isn’t a degree holder yet like Cortez.

But Cortez is definitely a big catch. As one of the stars in San Beda’s recent NCAA championship run, Cortez averaged 15.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists a game in the Red Lions’ triumph in five years.

“I’ve been wanting to pursue him since last year,” said De La Salle champion coach Topex Robinson of Cortez, the son of three-time Archer champion Mike.

Is player piracy a disease?

Not really. It benefits both the player and the school that lands the prey.

The school losing its prized possession will surely sulk. But it is what it is. Maybe it happened because it fumbled along the way, like mistreating the departing player?

And since no tournament rule discourages the practice, it’s become an everyday thing.

So, who’s yakking?


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