MANILA, Philippines – Hiring NBA players for the national team might do more harm than good to Philippine basketball, according to PBA legend Ramon Fernandez.
In an interview with Spin.ph’s Snow Badua, the retired PBA star said the acquisition of NBA players Javale McGee and Andray Blatche could rob local cagers of opportunities to flourish in the international stage.
"Mawawalan lang ng opportunity ang mga kababayan natin dyan," said “El Presidente.” "'Yung experience na ma-gain ng kababayan natin sa mga international tournaments like the world championships, 'yun ang mas importante sa akin!"
Fernandez stressed that the Philippines actually has a surplus of cagers. Some of them, he said, are big and tall enough to compete against their foreign counterparts.
“Meron na tayong malalaking players, meron na tayong 6-foot-4 at 6-foot-5 na point guard … 6-foot-7 at 6-foot-8 na forward, tapos mayroon pa tayong June Mar Fajardo at Greg Slaughter,” he said.
The 60-year-old Leyte native is one of the most highly decorated players ever to suit up in Asia's first play-forpay league.
Aside from winning the Most Valuable Player award four times, Fernandez was a frequent member of the PBA Mythical First team from 1976 to 1992. He was also named among the PBA's 25 Greatest Players.
Fernandez also experienced playing against the world's best as a member of the Philippine national team that competed in the 1974 FIBA Worlds.
Fernandez said that instead of trying to beat the world’s top basketball teams, he said it is more important to establish the country’s standing in the Asian level.
“Ambisyunin na lang natin ang Asia, it’s even hard at it is. Asia pa lang mabigat ng battleground sa akin. 'Pag nag-qualify tayo sa world at Olympics, that’s already a bonus,” he said.
“Si Marcus Douthit lang okay na 'yan. Or after Douthit, okay lang mag-naturalize ng iba … pero sa akin nga, kahit hindi na. Ang ambisyunin lang natin Asia. 'Wag na yung world stage,” added Fernandez.