Former national team coach and current Ateneo shot-caller Tab Baldwin believes having tournaments in the PBA in which there is one foreign player is a flaw in the domestic game.
"This is a big mistake. We should never have a single-import playing on a team," Baldwin said in an online interview.
Baldwin, who also serves as an assistant coach for the TNT KaTropa, said so-called imports enjoy certain advantages in officiating, compared in other leagues in the world.
"So in other words, put it in layman's terms, a foul for a PBA player for a local player isn't a foul on an import, and the foul of an import, that same foul on a local player isn't a foul," he said.
"So our local players are competitively disadvantaged in their ability to compete against the import players, and this is not the case in other countries."
Baldwin said this forces PBA coaches to run their systems through their foreign player, given the advantages.
This, however, prevents coaches from showing their real talent.
"They could be much better if they were forced to coach much more, I believe, I think then they would show their real talents," said Baldwin.
"But I think that because of the way our imports are treated here, it's not sound thinking for a coach to not exploit what is obvious to every PBA coach, and that is to run your offensive systems through your import."
The PBA is the only league that plays single-import tournaments in the East Asian region, although it used to allow two to play simultaneously per team.
The CBA in China and the KBL in South Korea allows up to two foreign players per team.
"I think that system, it creates a false landscape for our basketball coaches and our basketball players," Baldwin said. "And I think it needs to be changed sooner rather than later."
Baldwin's sentiments did not sit well with the PBA.
League commissioner Willie Marcial said that he will likely fine or suspend Baldwin for comments "detrimental to the league."
Alfrancis Chua, head of San Miguel Corp.'s sports development division, said getting more than one foreign player per team is expensive and would lessen local players' chances of finding work.
“Huwag niya sanang tirahin ang PBA sa panahon ngayon. Gusto nga nating makabalik na, tapos ganyan ang sasabihin niya,” Chua said.
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